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Events and Convenings

The Kirsch Foundation recognizes the importance of collaborative endeavors due to the complexity of the issues we face. The following events brought together various groups in an effort to advance our common goals.

May 21, 2004
Final Kirsch Investigators Seminar
Early in 2000, with the help of the renowned group of scientists who made up our Scientific Advisory Board, the Foundation instituted the Kirsch Investigator Award Program for established scientists at major research institutions. Four Investigators were selected in June 2000 and again in 2001, and three Investigators were selected in 2002 and again in 2003. Since its inception in 2000, the Kirsch Investigator Award Program has granted $4,320,000 to the researchers and their institutions.

On January 31, 2003, the Kirsch Foundation announced the indefinite suspension of the Kirsch Investigators Award Program, effective after the selection of the 2003 Investigators. The Kirsch Foundation held its fourth and final Kirsch Investigator review meeting on Friday, May 21, 2004, though the final group of researchers has an additional year during which to use the funds they were awarded.

Dr. Richard Born, presenting his research
findings at the final Kirsch Investigators

From left to right, Dr. Peter Jackson, Dr. Alex Kolodkin
Dr. Wendell Lim, Dr. Anne Villeneuve, and
Dr. Richard Born, all Kirsch Investigators.

April 28, 2004
Central Valley Air Quality Funders Convening
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that California's San Joaquin Valley is the most polluted region in the country according to new health-based smog standards. More than a year before that unwelcome "#1" announcement, the Kirsch Foundation made improving the Valley's air a top priority.

To build awareness about this public health and air pollution crisis, as well as to showcase the dedicated individuals fighting entrenched business interests, the Foundation hosted a funders convening in Fresno in April 2004. Staff members from various foundations representing over $3 billion in endowment came to learn from Valley activists and organizations. As a result of the five-hour discussion, several foundations have become aware of the extent of the problem and the exemplary group of individuals and grassroots organizations working to solve it through legislative and regulatory changes. We hope that the many connections made at the meeting will lead to increased resources, education, and advocacy devoted to creating a healthier environment for all residents of the Valley.

Comments from participants:

"Meeting was very useful in increasing my understanding of the situation in Fresno in particular, and the Central Valley in general, particularly the political and commercial barriers to change."

"I found Dr. Pepper's & Brent Newell's information new and different. I learned additional statistics that will provide a great context when building future relationships w/ EJ (environmental justice) groups."

Dr. David Pepper, UCSF Medical
Advocates for Healthy Air

Question from Marta Frausto,
Fresno Native American Health Center

March 3, 2004
Central Valley Air Quality Coalition Strategic Planning Meeting
As part of the Foundation's ongoing work on the air quality crisis in the San Joaquin Valley, we have helped facilitate two major coalition convenings in Merced, California. Attendees participated from a broad spectrum of organizations concerned about air quality, including local grassroots activists, statewide environmental justice groups, health care organizations, national environmental groups, and medical practitioners.

These meetings have resulted in a formalized coalition of groups working on air quality under the banner of the Central Valley Air Quality (CVAQ) coalition. This collaboration has directly led to a delegated committee structure, legislative priorities, and a mission and vision statement for the coalition. The Foundation plans to assist CVAQ in convening additional meetings as needed, as well as participating as an active coalition member.

Participants discuss tactics for reducing
air pollution over lunch at a CVAQ Strategic
Planning Meeting.

From left to right, Rey Leon (Latino Issues Forum)
Carolina Simunovic (Fresno Metro Ministry)
and Vanessa Stewart (Earthjustice).

January 7, 2004
California Clean Air Roundtable on Legislative Priorities
Since 2001, the Kirsch Foundation has convened a yearly meeting with all major California environmental and public health colleague organizations to discuss individual legislative goals and to build collective priorities among groups working in the state. Our most recent event in January 2004, held in Davis, California, attracted 30 key environmental leaders representing over 20 different organizations. We were also fortunate to have California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Terry Tamminen join us for a lunchtime presentation on Governor Schwarzenegger's environmental priorities.

Cal EPA Secretary Terry Tamminen (center) speaks
at the Kirsch Foundation Clean Air Roundtable, January 2004

November 2, 2001
Foundation Hosts Briefing on the Future of U.S. Security
In co-sponsorship with the Ploughshares Fund and Council for a Livable World Education Fund, we hosted a briefing, "The Future of U.S. Security," in November 2001. Over 50 people came to the Kirsch Conference Center at Community Foundation Silicon Valley to hear Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, MIT Professor and Physicist Theodore Postol, and Monterey Institute scholar Amy Sands speak about the threats associated with nuclear, biological, and chemical terrorism.

Comments from participants:

"Many thanks for an excellent program, and for making such nationally known experts available to us."

"(I was) impressed by the high quality of the briefing"

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry
with Steve Kirsch

Q&A session at "Future of U.S. Security" Briefing

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