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Center for Nonprofit Leadership raises $1.5 million for training

Rod Gilbert

The Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Cal Lutheran successfully raised more than $1.5 million, reaching that goal in one year with the largest single donation in the organization’s more than 30-year history.

The TOLD Foundation of Camarillo donated the $1 million gift that led off CNL’s Campaign for the Future to create an endowment to ensure CNL will continue to offer professional training valued by thousands of nonprofit staff and volunteers.

“We are thrilled the Center for Nonprofit Leadership reached its goal in the Campaign for the Future,” said Rod Gilbert, TOLD Foundation president. “This is a remarkable achievement during challenging economic times. The foundation applauds all who worked toward the campaign’s success, and we thank the generous donors who also contributed.”

In addition to the TOLD Foundation, some four dozen Central Coast philanthropists gave to the campaign, led by co-chairs Kate McLean and Sally Yount. A full roster of donors can be found at

“When I started the center in 1991, I was hopeful it would increase the operational effectiveness of our region’s nonprofits in meeting our community’s needs,” said McLean, who serves as CNL’s advisory committee chair and is a former president of the Ventura County Community Foundation. “Sally and I are honored the community values our efforts over the past three decades and made this campaign a success.”

This new capital will expand the center’s prestigious board governance programs in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. It also will provide a host of professional development opportunities, such as networking events and open office hours.

“This endowment will enable CNL to develop programs that meet evolving needs and ensure a stable future for the center,” said Yount, a philanthropist and outspoken advocate for nonprofit training who has been involved with CNL since 2000.

In 2023 the center served 445 nonprofits and trained over 3,000 who attended its workshops in such topics as fundraising, accounting and strategic planning. CNL is known as an innovator of curriculum; its signature programs include the Board Leadership Institute and Board Service Bootcamp, a partnership with Amgen to place the company’s leaders on nonprofit boards across the Central Coast.

“The Center for Nonprofit Leadership has become an indispensable resource for hundreds of organizations in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties,” said Geoff Green, CEO of CalNonprofits. “I have the privilege of serving as a donor and advisory board member as part of my personal commitment to building the strength of our region’s nonprofit sector.”

The campaign’s successful culmination was announced Nov. 28 to 200 nonprofit and civic leaders at CNL’s annual Celebration of the Sector at the Museum of Ventura County.

For information on upcoming programs, visit

We are thrilled the Center for Nonprofit Leadership reached its goal in the Campaign for the Future,” said Rod Gilbert, TOLD Foundation president.

Rod Gilbert, TOLD Foundation president

Cal Lutheran receives $1.2M federal grant to support educators of Deaf/hard of hearing

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Cal Lutheran a $1,241,679 grant to support the Graduate School of Education’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Credential Program.

The five-year grant will fund Access Teach: Closing the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Educator Gap, a project to support 60 graduate-level students who will leave the program as credentialed teachers of high-need Deaf and hard-of-hearing students in public schools. The grant will cover a portion of tuition, financial aid, textbooks and instructional materials, as well as provide mentoring and other support to recruit and retain students.

The grant also allows the program to be restructured to a hybrid format by summer 2024. Classes will be synchronous with some in-person classes on Saturdays, a change that will accommodate the needs of working professionals across Southern California.

“This grant is a significant step forward in our mission to provide high-quality education to future diverse and multilingual teachers of the deaf,” said the project’s director, Sofia Ramirez Davis, EdD, assistant professor and director of Cal Lutheran’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program. “We are committed to creating an inclusive and dynamic learning environment that prepares our students for success in this high-need field.”

According to the Council on Education of the Deaf, the need for credentialed and highly qualified teachers serving Deaf and hard-of-hearing students has grown in recent years due to high retirement rates as well as reductions in training programs.

Crucial to meeting demand in California is recruiting multilingual teachers with skills to serve the state’s increasingly diverse student population.

Cal Lutheran’s existing Deaf and Hard of Hearing Credential Program already has a strong impact on public schools in the greater Los Angeles area because it is one of the few programs in the state to focus on listening and spoken language for school-age children with hearing loss. A large percentage of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s teachers for the Deaf and hard of hearing are graduates of the university’s program.

This grant is a significant step forward in our mission to provide high-quality education to future diverse and multilingual teachers of the deaf.

Sofia Ramirez Davis, EdD

The end goal of Access Teach is improved language and literacy skills among students with hearing loss, and an increase in the number of fully credentialed educators, including those who are multilingual and from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, to serve school-age children with disabilities.

Project director Ramirez Davis holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master’s in deaf education from Cal Lutheran and brings over 18 years of experience to the project as a Spanish teacher, credentialed teacher of the Deaf, parent educator, assistant professor, administrator, mentor and leader in spoken-language education for students with hearing loss.

Project partners are the Los Angeles Unified School District and other local districts, USC Caruso Family Center for Childhood Communication, NO LIMITS for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, Advanced Bionics (AB) Corporation and ECHO Center.

Students’ winning sports management projects support health, literacy and the environment

A student team in the Sports Management program at Cal Lutheran took top honors and a $1,000 prize in the university’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Competition 2023. Matthew Mikhail, Jacob Romano and Dallas Martin worked together on a presentation that showcased how basketball can help Los Angeles County youth improve their physical and mental health and support the L.A. Clippers’ community engagement at the same time.

Photo Credit: Mahsa Ghaderpour

Three teams were chosen as finalists to compete in the Dec. 6 event. The students’ projects were derived from their semester-length capstone projects for the Sports Management program; each project focused on developing sustainable and business solutions to solve a real-world sports-related problem. Students identified issues related to social inclusion, economic growth and environmental protection, and created strategies to educate the community about them.

Brandon “Kekoa” Alana, Timothy Thompson and Kennedy Lazenby won the $500 second-place prize for their presentation, “Dedicated to Uplifting Bright Students (DUBS),” on building a financial literacy education program through the Golden State Warriors basketball team to educate underserved youth in the Bay Area.

Third-place honoree Ryan Santourian won $250 for his presentation on “Electric Vehicles and Baseball in the State of California,” a proposal to combine electric cars and baseball to make a difference in the lives of Californians.

Los Angeles-based sports industry leaders served as judges for the competition attended by 80 students and Cal Lutheran leadership.

“All three groups really had impressive presentations. They had really good facts, well thought out presentations,” said Artis Twyman, vice president of communications at the Los Angeles Rams. “What they’re talking about now – sustainability, how the world is heating up and mental health issues – all these things are not only what we’re deliberating now, but will be deliberating down the line.”

The second annual competition grew out of the School of Management’s commitment to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), a United Nations-supported, worldwide initiative. “At the heart of ‘Agenda 2030’ are 17 SDGs and 169 related targets that address the most important economic, social, environmental and governance challenges of our time,” according to the PRME website.

Through the SDGs, Cal Lutheran students see firsthand how these initiatives have become a large part of today’s sports organizations’ identities, and how their efforts can contribute to increasing the impact of SDG work in the future.

Mark Orlando, EdD, director of the Sports Management program at Cal Lutheran, said he is proud of the program’s students and how committed they are to pursuing innovative projects that benefit the field of sports management and the community.

“These projects are simply proposals and do not reflect the beliefs or opinions of the organizations referenced,” Orlando said. “However, they are intended to open the line of thinking and opportunities in how organizations can be leveraged and give back to goodwill.”

Cal Lutheran stands out as the only undergraduate sports management program in California that noticeably promotes and integrates a sustainable development curriculum. It is also one of five programs in the state that is part of a business/management school; others are more embedded in health, health and human services, kinesiology and other nonbusiness-oriented programming.

All three groups really had impressive presentations. They had really good facts, well thought out presentations.

Artis Twyman, vice president of communications, Los Angeles Rams