Iao Katigiri, RAND Corporation

Director, RAND Office of Community Relations; Deputy Vice President, Office of External Affairs

Santa Monica is rightfully proud of its high levels of public participation and quality of life, and its thriving, forward-leaning economy. They all depend on an educated electorate and workforce. California used to be a national leader in high-quality public education, but it has dropped to near the bottom of the list. As the state budget shrank, public schools suffered. Although Santa Monica has not been immune to this trend, our schools have been able to weather the financial storm a little better than most because our community, through local government support and private philanthropy, has stepped up to fill some of the gap. The Education Foundation has been the focal point for advocacy, stewardship, and allocation of supplemental funds, bringing organization and professionalism to what has been essentially a volunteer effort. It has played a central role in securing and maintaining the community’s trust that donations will be managed well, used effectively, and deployed where the need is greatest.