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The James Irvine Foundation Board of Directors elects Fresno’s Tim Rios as Chair

I have had the pleasure of serving on The James Irvine Foundation’s Board of Directors since 2015, including as Chair since January 2020. I never could have anticipated the challenges that California and our nation would face in the years since, and I am proud of how our grantee partners worked to address the inequities laid bare by the pandemic and systemic racism in our communities. As we support the work to address these challenges, I am honored to announce a new Chair for Irvine’s Board of Directors.  

At our September meeting, the board elected Tim Rios, who lives in Fresno, to serve as Chair for the next three years (starting January 1, 2023). Tim is Irvine’s first board Chair from Fresno. Since joining the board in December 2012, Tim has combined his humility and graciousness with a dedication to economic development in California and inland communities that have often gone overlooked.  

Tim is a Senior Vice President for Wells Fargo’s Social Impact and Sustainability Group and leads the company’s Rural and Native American strategy. In 2005, Tim received national recognition from the U.S. Small Business Administration, when he was presented with the Financial Services Champion Award. In 2010, Tim was reappointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to California’s Economic Strategy Panel. In 2016, Tim co-founded the Central Valley Latino Giving Circle. 

On top of his qualifications and commitment to supporting communities in his professional life, Tim’s kindness and lived experience will also benefit Irvine’s work. I have learned from Tim his experiences growing up the son of fieldworkers. He and his siblings immigrated to the United States in the late 1970s with their parents, Jose and Maria.  

His parents had only three years of schooling between them and knew no English when they arrived, and they benefitted greatly from the collective generosity and guidance of others. Like so many Central Valley immigrants, they worked in the fields, and Tim and his two older brothers eventually joined them on Central California’s farms for more than 10 years. 

Tim’s Fresno roots are valuable to help us achieve a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically, since we believe that the Inland California’s young, growing, and diverse population represents the future of the state. 

Irvine’s focus on California’s inland communities – Fresno, Salinas, Stockton, and Riverside and San Bernardino – recognizes that these cities possess significant assets and contributions to our culture and economy yet often receive fewer resources and attention than coastal cities.  

That’s why one of the Foundation’s major initiatives — alongside the Better Careers, Fair Work, and Just Prosperity initiatives — is Priority Communities, which invests $135 million over seven years, starting in 2020, in leaders and organizations who are creating greater opportunities for residents in inland California. Supporting organizations in these regions offers a valuable opportunity to listen to communities, act on what they identify as needs, and create a more equitable economy. 

It is an honor to be part of an organization supporting such efforts, and I thank Don Howard for his dedication and partnership as Irvine’s CEO. I am grateful for my time as Irvine’s board Chair — and will continue to serve on the board — and look forward to Tim’s leadership and what will come as we build an economy that truly works for all Californians.


Masthead photo credit: Samanta Helou Hernandez