By Ashley Chambers
Interim CEO Dee Dee Brantley is leading The San Francisco Foundation in its mission as a “catalyst for change” in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it is making an impact with big ideas, innovative projects and continues to fund local programs that make a difference in the community.
Brantley is the first African American to lead the organization, taking over the helm after former CEO Dr. Sandra Hernández stepped down. With a background in human resources, Brantley has been at the foundation for over a decade and held the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) before being appointed Interim CEO this month.
She moved to Oakland from her hometown of Ohio to attend Holy Names University where she earned her bachelor’s degree and MBA. She is a longtime Oakland resident and has been married for almost 40 years having raised two sons.
The Post had a chance to sit down with Brantley to talk one-on-one about her career in philanthropy and her vision for the Foundation.
Post: How did you get involved in philanthropy?
Dee Dee Brantley: I actually had a career in the for-profit world, so I’ve seen both sides of the equation, what it’s like to work there versus what it’s like to work in a community-oriented, values-oriented organization.
I was at a point in my career where I actually felt compelled to be in a different environment and not in a for-profit environment any longer, where I felt I could actually make a difference. Fortunately, my sons actually did have some advantages, but even with those advantages, it didn’t stop some of the things that happen to people of color in this society.
Post: The foundation has impacted so many communities with social justice, racial equity, youth programs and civic engagement, among other issues. What do you see as the most pressing need now?
Brantley: That’s a really difficult question if you ask what is the single most pressing need now. From my perspective, there are a lot of needs that have been around forever.
If you think about equity inclusion at the macro level, that’s something that we always strive for. So if you think about pressing issues, I think it depends. If I think about Oakland where I live, one of the things that concerns me the most is the high crime rate and the high crime rate for various populations.
With our FAITHS program, we’re doing a lot of work in that area, and I think that is really a pressing issue.
The Bay Area has tremendous needs around affordable housing and again, that’s a really key focus of the foundation with our HOPE SF projects, with Great Communities Collaborative, this transit-oriented development work that we’re doing. So affordable housing is really key because we’re going to lose so many people in our communities if they can’t afford to live here.
Cross posted from The Post News Group