Hugh J. Ralston, President & CEO
Ventura County Community Foundation
Hugh Ralston was appointed the third President & CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation in July 2003, when the foundation’s assets were $32 million. The Foundation had total assets in excess of $110 million in September 2007, and distributed over $5.5 million in grants and pledges in 2008 to organizations that serve Ventura County, including over $1 million in student scholarships, a new record. In addition to donor advised funds and agency endowments, VCCF includes the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, the Ventura County Civic Alliance, the Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Foundation as well as the Women’s Legacy Fund, Destino: The Hispanic Legacy Fund, the Heritage Fund, the Farmworker Housing Fund, the Special and Urgent Needs (SUN) Fund, the Community Response Fund, the Scholarship Fund for Ventura County, the Medical Education Fund, Career and Technical Education Scholarship Fund and the recently established donor advised Social Justice Fund.
VCCF’s fund management continues to provide returns in excess of benchmarks, with FY 2009 portfolio returns of 5.5% exceeding the benchmarks by 370 bps and scoring in the top two deciles in the relevant universe. The portfolio’s diversified strategies focus on generating long term capital growth after distributions, inflation and fees. Total assets as of October 2009 were $95million.
VCCF has recently launched several significant initiatives, including Technology Works for Nonprofit (a dedicated technology center at its Camarillo offices), the Board Leadership Institute, the Planned Giving Initiative and was awarded one of ten initial grants in the US to develop strategies around nursing by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation’s Partners in Nursing’s Future. VCCF also launched in 2008 a three year arts initiative, ArtsLIVE in Ventura County, participating in the Irvine Foundation’s Communities Advancing the Arts. VCCF recently completed the Mental Health Initiative, a three year effort around strengthening mental health services in Ventura County, as well as distribution of $760,000 from the Freeze Fund to assist local agricultural workers impacted by the January 2007 freeze. VCCF was also a founding member of Ventura County Together, a unique collaborative of public and nonprofit agencies collaborating on meeting the increasing basic needs of residents with distribution in food, shelter, access to healthcare and the importance of 211 as a connector: the collaborative recently received a $150,000 challenge grant from the Amgen Foundation.
VCCF has been certified in compliance with national standards by the Council on Foundations.
Mr. Ralston is familiar with the history of Ventura County, as his grandfather was a Sunkist lemon grower for over 40 years, primarily in the Oxnard Valley. Mr. Ralston remains a third generation partner in the family’s businesses, based in Santa Barbara County.
A former international, corporate and private banker for 16 years with Security Pacific and J.P. Morgan, Mr. Ralston also has extensive experience in nonprofits, including four years as the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation in Los Angeles. He has over ten years of service as a director/trustee for organizations that include Scripps College in Claremont, California (where he current serves on the executive committee and as cochair of the audit committee), the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Community Arts Music Association of Santa Barbara, the Research Institute at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles as well as volunteer leadership roles at The Huntington Library and the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. He is also on the board of Southern California Grantmakers (where he chairs the audit committee), the Planned Giving Council of Ventura County and serves as vice chair of the Community Commission for Ventura County. He serves on the steering committee of the League of California Community Foundations where he was recently re-elected treasurer, as well as on the Council on Foundations National Standards Action Team, representing the LCCF; he was recently elected a board member of the Community Foundations National Standards Board, a support organization of the Council on Foundations. He was appointed to the Ventura County Workforce Investment Board by the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Ralston is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church and a member of several service organizations, including the Rotary Club of Los Angeles (LA5). He has a BA cum laude from Amherst College and a MALD from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, a joint program of Tufts and Harvard universities, with concentrations in international law and US diplomatic history; he passed his orals with distinction. He is also an accomplished choral singer, participating in the Mastersingers USA 2003 Ireland/UK tour, during which the Mastersingers won the male choral competition at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales; the next upcoming tour is to the Balkans and St. Petersburg in the summer of 2009. He has sung with the Quire of Voyces and as a soloist at the First Presbyterian Church, both in Santa Barbara. He has been accepted to the Tallis Scholars Summer School in Seattle, Washington. Mr. Ralston lives in Ventura with his wife Elizabeth, a garden designer and member of the faculty at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, a private college in Los Angeles, where she teaches the history of art and furniture & garden design.