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Chet Hewitt Joins PPIC Board, Mas Masumoto Named Chair

Mark Baldassare September 14, 2016

PPIC welcomed two accomplished Californians to key leadership roles today. Chet Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation, joined our board of directors, and Mas Masumoto, noted author and third-generation farmer, was elected board chair. Each brings a strong record of public service and a deep knowledge of the forces shaping our state. Both share PPIC’s commitment to shaping a better future for all Californians. ·

Chet Hewitt has expanded the impact of the Sierra Health Foundation, a private philanthropy focused on improving health and quality of life in Northern California. Since he joined the foundation in 2007, he has focused on investments in four areas: health disparities, social determinants of health, health care access, and the well-being of vulnerable youth populations. He is also president and CEO of the foundation’s independent operating unit, the Center for Health Program Management, which works to eradicate health inequities across the state, with a special focus on the San Joaquin Valley.

Previously, Chet worked for five years as the director of Alameda County’s Social Services Agency, where he was credited with using technology to improve the delivery of services and transforming the agency’s child welfare system into a national model. He has also served as associate director for the Rockefeller Foundation in New York and program director for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco. He was named administrator of the year by the Black Administrators in Child Welfare and has received several national honors, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation Child and Family Leaders Fellowship and Child Welfare Administrator of the Year. Recently, he helped found—and now serves as a co-chair—of the California Executives’ Alliance, a consortium of foundations focused on improving the life chances of boys and young men of color in California.

While he is new to the board, Chet is not new to PPIC. As a member of the PPIC Statewide Leadership Council, he has provided our management team with insights and advice about the state’s policy environment and our own programs and activities.

Mas Masumoto grows organic peaches, nectarines, and raisins on an 80-acre farm south of Fresno. Mas is the author of many books, including Epitaph for a Peach, Heirlooms, Letters to the Valley, Four Seasons in Five Senses, Harvest Son, Country Voices, and Silent Strength. In 2013, his family farm cookbook, The Perfect Peach—written with his wife, Marcy, and his daughter, Nikiko—was named one of best summer cookbooks by USA Today. The National Resources Defense Council selected another of his books, Wisdom of the Last Farmer, for its list of the Best Environmental Journalism of 2009. He is also a columnist for the Fresno Bee and the Sacramento Bee.

Mas was a Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow from 2006 to 2008. His writing awards include Commonwealth Club Silver Medal and Julia Child Cookbook Award. He was also a finalist for a James Beard Foundation Award. UC Davis honored him with an Award of Distinction in 2003, and he received the California Central Valley Excellence in Business Award in 2007.

Mas serves on the board of the Central Valley Community Foundation. He was on the James Irvine Foundation board from 2002 to 2014 and is the former chair of the California Council for the Humanities board. In 2013, President Obama appointed him to the National Council on the Arts, the board for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Changing Season, a documentary about succession on the Masumoto family farm, has been featured in film festivals and was nationally broadcast by PBS in May 2016.

Chet was elected to a three-year term and is eligible to serve three terms. Mas was first elected to the PPIC board in 2009. He takes over as chair from Donna Lucas, chief executive officer of Lucas Public Affairs. She remains on the board.

The other members of the board are myself; Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of GROW Elect; María Blanco, executive director of the Undocumented Student Legal Services Center in the University of California Office of the President; Louise Henry Bryson, chair emerita of the Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust; A. Marisa Chun, partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP; Phil Isenberg, former chair of the Delta Stewardship Council; Steven A. Merksamer, senior partner of Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Gross & Leoni, LLP; Gerald L. Parsky, chairman of the Aurora Capital Group; Kim Polese, chair of ClearStreet, Inc.; and Gaddi H. Vasquez, senior vice president of government affairs for Edison International and Southern California Edison.

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