Partner Q & A: Caroline Rook

May 3, 2013

SVP Partner, Caroline RookLASVP Partner Caroline Rook is a senior level professional with 30 years of international strategic financial and operational experience. Caroline has been an SVP Partner since 2011.

Q: How were you introduced to LASVP?
Caroline:
By Bob Wright from SVP Dallas who wrote a book The Little Green Book of Venture Philanthropy with my old boss and SVP Dallas Partner, George Ellis.

Q: What is your favorite part of being involved in LASVP?
Caroline:
Coaching Fast Pitch and seeing the progression of the candidates through the whole process. What amazing changes we see. Being part of the process with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and watching them deliver their pitches before the audience was an honor.

Q: What inspires you to make a difference?
Caroline:
I am inspired by the continual effort and positive outlook of the folks at LASVP and am continuously learning from their points of view.

Q: What social issues are you most passionate about?
Caroline:
 The Environment and Children: LASVP’s continued efforts to support strong education programs is so important to the children of Los Angeles

Q: What do you listen to when you’re stuck in traffic?
Caroline:
NPR: KPCC. News, The Splendid Table, Story Corps, etc.

Q: What is your favorite place in LA?
Caroline:
Any good hole-in-the-wall restaurant with great ethnic food!

Q: Who was your favorite teacher in school?
Caroline:
Madame Juvet, my French teacher at my European school. I was in grade school when I moved from Singapore to Europe and had never even heard of French! She was so patient with me and kind.

You can learn more about our Partners here on our website.


Partner Q & A: Keith Kegley

January 8, 2013

Keith Kegley, SVP PartnerKeith Kegley is a technology entrepreneur and philanthropist. He joined Social Venture Partners in Seattle in 1997 and has been an active partner in Los Angeles since 2006.

Q: How were you introduced to LASVP?

Keith: I heard about it soon after Paul Brainerd and Scott Oki came up with the idea of it in 1997 and joined as soon as I met Paul Shoemaker.

Q: Why did you decide to get involved and what have your roles been with SVP over time?

Keith: I was inspired by the core mission to train and develop savvy philanthropists and felt a deep connection with that agenda, so I began as the first partner education lead. A group of us designed the early philanthropy curriculum in Seattle.  We recruited a roster of notable experts and innovative philanthropists to lead a series of workshops and programs and were offering about 40 courses a year. I led the partner orientation workshops for the first 8 years and have co-led a series of those here in Los Angeles as well.  I’ve served as a lead partner for 2 investees and as a board member in Los Angeles and actively contribute in various ways to SVPI.

Q: What is your favorite part of being involved in LASVP?

Keith: Learning about the sector, working with social entrepreneurs and investees, collaborating with partners, and teaching partners how to upgrade their philanthropic confidence and savvy.

Q: What is the most memorable experience that you’ve had so far with LASVP?

Keith: Working with Healthy Child Healthy World as a lead partner, feeling confident in our ability to help them and be a resourceful change agent in their transformation as an organization.

Q: What did you dream of when you were a kid?

Keith: I read lots of science fiction, spy novels or political thrillers, so mostly I imagined how the future would be very different and how exciting that was going to be. I got a glimpse of the accelerating pace of technology, won a national invention competition and earned my first patent when I was 15. To me, the future was going to be full of socially transformative inventions and institutions.

Q: What do you look forward to on the weekends?

Keith: Time at home with my wife Ali.

Q: What social issue are you most passionate about?

Keith: I began as a true Earth First tree hugger after hiking through clear-cuts the north cascades, then evolved to realize the environment was an economic justice issue and have progressed to realize that as human beings move into the middle class they care more about the quality of the air, the water, the food and the health of their communities. I believe that for the planet to support a multi-billion person, modern, global society we need as many people in that middle class as we can manage because that’s what stabilizes populations, shifts resources to address those issues, and generates the demand for policies that take care of those concerns.

You can read more about our Partners here on our website.


Congratulations LA Business Journal Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Award Winners

August 29, 2012

Ezequiel Olvera, Gumball FoundationWe were proud to see some familiar names pop up in the Los Angeles Business Journal in June. At their annual Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards, the Journal honored two of LASVP’s Fast Pitch alumni and one of our past Investees. We were excited to see them honored, but not surprised. Over the years, we’ve come to expect it—the fantastic organizations we have the privilege of working with go on to climb greater heights.

The Organization of the Year award went to Chrysalis, an innovative and impactful organization fighting homelessness. Mark Loranger, who presented on behalf of Chrysalis at our first Fast Pitch event in 2008, was also a coach at the 2011 Fast Pitch program, mentoring finalist Cardborigami. Chrysalis impressed the LA Business Journal with their success in creating pathways to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income people. According to the Journal, “In 2010 alone, Chrysalis Enterprises created over 218,000 hours of employment and generated 2.5 million in wages,” and despite a difficult job market, saw a 15% rise in employment among their clients in 2011.

The award for Outstanding Nonprofit Team went to former LASVP Investee organization TreePeople. The environmental organization’s leadership model “has created a true team approach and a culture focused on ensuring TreePeople’s ongoing success.” Congratulations to all the hard-working staff there, who continue to be dedicated to growing a sustainable future for Los Angeles.

The Social Enterprise Award went to Gumball Foundation, the organization selected as the Audience Favorite at the 2011 Fast Pitch. Their model encourages academic success and increases college access while teaching students valuable entrepreneurial skills—a triple threat that has also been making a splash in the media. Gumball Foundation has recently been featured on NBC and Telemundo, and interest in the young organization continues to grow. Ezequiel Olvera, the founder of the organization, says that his Fast Pitch training has come in handy—most recently when he addressed the audience of 500 at the Journal’s award ceremony at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

Congratulations to all of the Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards Honorees! We know that they will continue to achieve bigger and better things, and most importantly, keep making positive change in our communities.

Want an early peek at the nonprofits who have the potential to become the “next big thing?” Don’t miss our 5th Annual Social Innovation Fast Pitch on October 24th.


Partner Q & A: Brad Sparks

August 29, 2012

Brad SparksLASVP Partner Brad Sparks is the Director of KPMG International’s Global Green Initiative, the firm’s global climate change strategy. Brad has been part of the LASVP Partnership since 2008.

Q: What is your role with LASVP? Why did you get involved in this area?

Brad: I currently serve as Treasurer. As a CPA, it is a bit of a natural fit. And with my current role at KPMG being focused entirely on sustainability, it’s an opportunity to continue to think about the accounting and finance issues I dealt with previously.

Q: What is your favorite LASVP Investee/Fast Pitch Alum organization?

Brad: My favorite Fast Pitch organization is Food Forward – it is such an obvious opportunity, but was completely overlooked until someone took the time to try to do something that makes perfect sense.

Q: What do you listen to when you’re stuck in traffic?

Brad: I don’t get stuck…believe it or not, LA does have some public transportation exceptions that work and I take a 20-minute commuter express bus from El Segundo to downtown each day. It is half the time and saves me from paying $10 a day parking. So instead of listening to the radio, I spend my commute reading the Economist.

Q: What is your favorite place in LA?

Brad: It’s my town – El Segundo. Basically, the town is Mayberry in a big city, with parades, a Main Street, and now both a fantastic brewery and beer garden. My wife, Maureen, and I basically don’t drive on the weekends – spending our time enjoying the Gundo.

Q: Which nonprofit organization do you wish everyone knew about?

Brad: GRID Alternatives – it was a Fast Pitch program in 2011 and I love what the group does – putting solar panels on low-incoming housing. Basically, it is a renewable energy twist on Habitat for Humanity and the additional bonus is that it uses the process to train people to become contractors for solar panel installations.

You can read more about our Partners here on our website.


Save Water. Use California Native Plants.

July 3, 2012

Patrick LarkinPatrick Larkin is the Executive Director of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and represented the organization at the 2011 Social Innovation Fast Pitch. Click here to watch Patrick’s pitch.

After Occupy LA protestors were removed from the premises last year, the landscape at Los Angeles City Hall was quite altered—the grass was dead in large patches and parts of the landscape had been uprooted.  The city knew they needed to start from scratch, but instead of doing the same old thing, they decided to look into installing a landscape that would conserve water, one of L.A.’s most precious resources.

That’s where Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden came in.  The 2011 Social Innovation Fast Pitch finalist organization offers a diverse set of programs, from educational tours for elementary school classes to employment programs for military veterans readjusting to civilian life.  But as a garden specializing in California native plants, water conservation is something they spend a lot of time thinking about.  “Native plants use 2/3 less water,” says Executive Director Patrick Larkin.

Ellen Sloan, an LASVP Partner and one of Patrick’s Fast Pitch coaches, heard about the opportunity at City Hall and helped connect Patrick with people she knew at the city.  With the help of these connections, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens became involved as advisors for the City Hall landscape work.  “By integrating native plants into your yard, you save water and money,” says Patrick.  The current options being proposed for City Hall all include integrating native plants, the frontrunner being to incorporate more drought-tolerant and California native plants into the north and south lawns while maintaining a smaller grass lawn for public events.  (You can voice your support for a water-conserving landscape here.)

If you want to help your favorite nonprofit start making connections that will help them put their mission into action, encourage them to apply to this year’s Fast Pitch! Applications will be accepted until July 16.  “The Fast Pitch was great,” says Patrick.  “It helped us make connections in the community…and challenged me in ways I hadn’t been challenged before.”

Click here to see what Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has in store for summer. Click here to learn more about applying to the Social Innovation Fast Pitch.