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Jim Canales

Jim Canales

Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine Foundation from 2003 to February 2014.

Blog entries tagged in Philanthropy and Nonprofits

From the President: With Thanks

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Feb 04, 2014

Dear Friends,

In a few weeks, I will conclude what has been an enormously satisfying tenure as Irvine’s CEO since 2003. Since the announcement of my appointment as President of the Barr Foundation, I have found myself reflecting a great deal upon gratitude. Therefore, I’d like to use this final President’s Message to offer my thanks to several groups of people, who have been essential to the progress that the Irvine Foundation has made and who have personally contributed to my growth and learning as CEO.

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From the President: A Region Vital to our Future

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Oct 16, 2013

Dear Friends,

One of the opportunities afforded to institutions such as the Irvine Foundation is the ability to take a long-term view. As a perpetual institution dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California, the Irvine Foundation needs to look at not only today’s challenges, but also must understand the trends and forces that will shape the California of the future.

For the past decade, our work has been informed by the realization that the inland parts of California — particularly the San Joaquin Valley along with Riverside and San Bernardino counties — are increasingly vital to the future of our state. The population of those regions continues to grow at rates far beyond California’s overall growth. In fact, between 2010 and 2030, it is projected that fully 46% of the state’s total population growth will occur in those regions alone.

It is this reality that led us to hold our quarterly board meeting in October in Riverside and San Bernardino, to provide our board members with an opportunity to hear directly from leaders and residents of the region regarding the assets and opportunities in their two counties. (We conducted a similar board visit to the Fresno region in 2010). There is simply no substitute for such visits; they provide the opportunity to listen and to learn and to have our strategies informed and shaped by the authentic experience of people who live there.

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From the President: Building A Field

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
User is currently offline
| Aug 07, 2013

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, we shared an interactive infographic on the progress of Linked Learning in California, an initiative in which Irvine has invested significantly over the past several years. Linked Learning seeks to prepare young people for success in college, career and life through an education reform that integrates work experience and professions with relevant and rigorous academics. Through the infographic, we shared voices from many of the players involved in Linked Learning, as well as preliminary data from an evaluation that shows promising and successful results.

As we released the report, I reflected upon what it takes to get to this level of coordinated work, with a diverse set of partners working together toward one goal. Obviously, clarity of strategy helps. So does a commitment to collaboration. But, in considering our work with Linked Learning, I’m reminded of an important tool that foundations can employ to create and sustain change: building a field. It has been our commitment to a field-building approach that, we believe, has been critical to the progress thus far.

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Engagement and the 2012 Annual Report

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
User is currently offline
| Jul 29, 2013

When people engage in their communities, in their work, in their state, good things can happen. At The James Irvine Foundation, where our mission is to expand opportunity for the people of California, this idea of engagement – and working to improve Californian’s prospects to engage – has often been core to our work, no matter the program area. This seemed more so than ever in 2012, during our 75th anniversary as a foundation.

Today, we release our 2012 Annual Report in a digital format that we hope you will find interactive. Through photographs, charts, videos, and highlights, we aim to reflect on each of our program areas, the work we have supported with our resources, and the impact we seek to achieve.

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Rethinking Philanthropy’s Approach: A Q&A with Jim Canales

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Jul 19, 2013

Editor’s Note: Irvine Foundation President and CEO Jim Canales gave a keynote address at the Social Impact Exchange conference in New York City in June, 2013. You can view a video of that speech here. Following the conference, Cynthia Massarsky of the Social Impact Exchange at Growth Philanthropy Network interviewed him about his thoughts on philanthropy’s ability to have impact. The Q&A ran in the July issue of the Scaling Report and is reprinted here.

SIE: Jim, you gave a great keynote last month at the Social Impact Exchange’s Annual Conference on Scaling Impact – and made the bold statement that philanthropy is underperforming. You quoted the cartoon charter Pogo who said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!” What did you mean by that?

Canales: I wanted to suggest that as we consider why philanthropy is underperforming, we need to look first at ourselves. I do think that we can be our own worst enemy. Our intentions are certainly good, but how we do our work can often inhibit our ability to have impact, and that’s what I wanted to explore at the Social Impact Exchange’s annual conference.

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Opportunity for an Exchange

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
User is currently offline
| Jul 11, 2013

During my first few years as Irvine’s CEO, the tools available to me for communications were far more limited than today. I gave speeches, which often involved standing behind a podium and delivering a prepared text that had gone through multiple iterations. I wrote annual report letters which, at that time, represented one of the very few opportunities to communicate with a broader audience about the Foundation’s activities and our learning. Many of the forms of communication I used were both formal and designed to be one-way in nature, with little opportunity for interaction or exchange.

Today, the nature of communications has evolved and, with it, the importance of adapting to new modes and styles. For example, TED Talk formats frequently replace formal speeches, tweeting and blogging provide ample opportunities to share ideas in real time, and technology offers multiple channels to reach many different audiences and to engage with them at practically any time.

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A Transparency Mindset in the Foundation Boardroom

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
User is currently offline
| May 22, 2013

In an essay this week for the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Irvine President and CEO Jim Canales addresses three questions that we should be asking to bring greater transparency to foundation boardrooms. The essay is reprinted here:

With its recent report, Foundation Transparency: What Nonprofits Want, the Center for Effective Philanthropy examines the nonprofit perspective, outlining the benefits of foundation transparency to the partners we support. As we continue to explore the merits of greater transparency in philanthropy, I propose we add another dimension to the discussion by asking: What about transparency in foundation boardrooms?

In my view, one of the fundamental duties of a foundation CEO is to construct time with the board in ways that engage trustees in substantive ways and that add value to the work of the foundation. Information sharing certainly deserves its place on board meeting agendas, but it should not comprise the majority of the board’s time together. Rather, we should be building into our board agendas opportunities for strategic dialogue, robust engagement, and, yes, even debate and disagreement. And, as we do so, a transparency mindset is essential.

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Maximizing Philanthropic Impact: An Interview with Jim Canales

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Mar 12, 2013
What does the Irvine Foundation learn by regularly gathering feedback from grantees and other constituents? And how do we integrate those lessons into our work?

How does the Foundation think about “risk” in the context of its grantmaking strategies?

What is the proper role of government in social innovation?

In an interview last week on the Social Velocity blog, Irvine President and CEO Jim Canales discussed these and other questions with Social Velocity President Nell Edgington. The interview is one in a series of monthly discussions that Edgington conducts with leaders in the nonprofit sector. The interview is reprinted here:

Nell: One of the four grantmaking principles of the Irvine Foundation is “Invest in Organizations,” meaning that you are committed to providing grants to build nonprofit organizations (evaluation, operating support, infrastructure). This is a pretty radical idea for most foundations. What do you think holds other foundations back from this kind of investment and what will it take to get more of them to embrace the idea of organization building as opposed to just supporting direct programs?

Jim: This question of general operating support versus project support has been an ongoing debate in the nonprofit sector, and I’d like to suggest that we may be creating for ourselves a false dichotomy that may not be helpful. I’d suggest we focus on the end goal, not the means. Let’s start by asking the question: How can we maximize impact toward the shared goals of a foundation and its grantees? By asking the question in that way, we naturally have to explore whether we are investing sufficient resources, in the right ways, so that our grantee can have the impact we both seek.

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From the President: Transparency 2.0

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
User is currently offline
| Feb 13, 2013 5

Dear Friends,

Within the past few weeks, I have read with interest the observations of a number of active bloggers in the arts field whom I have come to respect and admire: Nina Simon, Diane Ragsdale, Clay Lord and Barry Hessenius. Each of them has blogged on aspects of the Irvine Foundation’s new arts strategy and, in doing so, has contributed to a robust dialogue that has played out on their respective blogs as well as on Twitter.

And that’s what prompts my contribution to this discussion: I will comment only lightly on the substantive issues they have raised related to our Arts strategy as my colleague, Josephine Ramirez, who directs our Arts program, plans to post a more substantive comment on those issues in the next week or so. There is another aspect of this discussion that I do want to comment upon and invite others to engage on with me and my colleagues in philanthropy.

From my early days as Irvine’s CEO, and with great support from our Board of Directors, I have placed a premium on transparency, both with regard to our work at Irvine and for the broader field of philanthropy. I have certainly not been alone in this quest (Brad Smith at the Foundation Center is probably our field’s leading champion), and I think it’s a fair observation to say that the field has come a long way in the past decade.

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Canales: Forging a Constructive Board Partnership

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
User is currently offline
| Nov 15, 2012 1

On November 11, The Washington Post ran a collection of five pieces by leaders in the nonprofit arts sector touching on issues raised by the current plight of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Long a premier cultural institution in Washington – located across the street from the White House – the Corcoran is struggling to forge a sustainable future. Irvine President and CEO Jim Canales was among the leaders invited to share their views; he wrote about the importance of a constructive partnership between an organization’s chief executive and its board. His contribution is reprinted here:

Having served on and chaired many nonprofit boards, as well as having been chief executive of a large foundation for nine years, I know that when partnerships between a nonprofit’s board and its chief executive work well, they create the conditions for high performance. A constructive partnership:

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