Judy Belk serves as Senior Advisor to the California Wellness Foundation, where she provides strategic counsel to the CEO and Board of Directors. Most recently, she served for nine years as the foundation’s President and CEO and a member of the Board of Directors, stepping down in September 2023. As CEO, Belk had responsibility for overseeing a $1 billion endowment, $60 million annually in grants and program related investments, and a $17 million operating budget.
During her tenure, Belk re-engineered the foundation’s operations, grantmaking initiatives, investment management and institutional voice to align with its mission of improving the health and wellness of all Californians with a focus on racial and social justice.
Under her leadership, the foundation invested $13 million in two new initiatives to address health issues that disproportionately impact women of color, launched a mission-related investing strategy to leverage the foundation’s endowment, and led the founding of the Hope and Heal Fund, the state’s first donor collaborative on gun violence prevention. She integrated Cal Wellness’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion into every aspect of the foundation’s operations.
Prior to joining Cal Wellness in 2014, Belk served as senior vice president for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors where she oversaw RPA’s West Coast and Midwest offices, advising individual donors, family foundations, as well as private and corporate funders on their giving around the globe. She also served as vice president of global public affairs for Levi Strauss & Co., where she reported directly to the CEO in overseeing global communications, corporate social responsibility, government affairs, and the Levi Strauss Foundation.
A prolific writer, thought leader, and speaker on organizational ethics, race, social change, philanthropic trends, and nonprofit management, Belk has been published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio (NPR) in addition to other news outlets. More of her writings can be found at www.judybelkwriter.com.
Belk currently serves on the board of Hedgebrook, a women’s writing retreat on Whidbey Island in Washington state that promotes women’s voices and social change. She is a board member of the Surdna Foundation, a national private family foundation. Previously she served on the boards of the ACLU of Northern California, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and the Berkeley Repertory Theater. She has received the Southern California Coro Crystal Eagle Leadership Award, the Northwestern University 2021 Alumni Medal, the James A. Joseph Lecturer on Philanthropy by the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), and most recently, the “Ann Reiss Lane Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Women Against Gun Violence (WAGV). Belk received a BS in communications from Northwestern University and an MA in public administration from California State University, East Bay, where she was recognized as the 1999 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Belk has been inducted in the Alexandria African American Hall of Fame in recognition of her writing and public service leadership. She currently resides in Los Angeles.