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; total assets recently closed at $131 million. VCCF’s core competencies include stewarding donor legacies, teaching nonprofit leadership and investing in the future of the region. In addition to donor advised and designated funds, agency endowments, scholarship and field of interest funds, VCCF includes 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, and the Ventura County Veterans Fund. VCCF has distributed over $9.6 million in scholarships to over 3700 students, increasing its annual program ten fold over the past decade. VCCF has been re-certified in compliance with national standards by the Council on Foundations, the highest form of accreditation in philanthropy.
VCCF dedicated its new VCCF Nonprofit Center in April 2013, a new 53,500 sq. ft. facility for 15 nonprofit tenants in centrally located Camarillo. Now fully leased to 15 local nonprofits, the Center provides community rooms for meetings, a dedicated grassroots office space and expanded facilities for its Center for Nonprofit Leadership, which touched 850+ local nonprofits last year through workshops, convenings, technology classes and online access to information. Its capital campaign received a significant boost with a program related investments from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
VCCF also serves as the fiscal agent for Ventura County Together, a 40+ public and nonprofit collaboration focused on expanding basic needs services to local residents, as well as supports the Ventura County Civic Alliance, which recently unveiled the third of its State of the Region Reports. VCCF also hosts the Social Justice Fund, a donor advised fund at VCCF established by donors investing in social change. Other collaborative partnerships in recent years includes the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’ Partners in Nursing’s Future, the Irvine Foundation’s Communities Advancing the Arts (ArtsLIVE in Ventura County), the California Endowment’s Focus Funders (which included Destino as one of seven grantees), and the emerging 2020 Youth Initiative, which is exploring ways to help non college bound youth transition successfully to adulthood.
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 twenty years of service as a director/trustee for organizations that have included the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Research Institute at Childrens’ Hospital Los Angeles, Southern California Grantmakers, KDB Radio as well as volunteer leadership roles at The Huntington Library and the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. He is currently a member of the board of trustees of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, Scripps College in Claremont, California (where he chairs the audit committee), the Star in Education Foundation and the Community Arts Music Association of Santa Barbara. He also serves on the board of the League of California Community Foundations, where he served as its first treasurer, and is president of the board of directors of the Community Foundations National Standards Board, a support organization of the Council on Foundations. He was also appointed to the Ventura County Workforce Investment Board by the Board of Supervisors, where he chairs the Resource Planning Committee, and serves as vice chair of the Community Commission of Ventura County.
He also serves on the Ventura chapter of the Ag Futures Alliance, a collaborative body dedicated to serving the region’s agricultural resources. 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.
Mr. Ralston is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church USA 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 on several other international tours with the Mastersingers USA, including the 2003 Ireland/UK tour during which the Mastersingers won the male choral competition at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. He has sung with the Quire of Voyces, as a soloist at the First Presbyterian Church, both in Santa Barbara, and been active with the Berkshire Choral Festival and in the Tallis Scholars Summer School in Seattle, Washington. He currently sings with the Los Robles Master Chorale, a regional choir that performs in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. He made his debut this past summer at the Hollywood Bowl under maestro Michael Tilson Thomas, singing with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Mr. Ralston lives in Ventura with his wife Elizabeth, a garden designer and member of the faculty at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, where she teaches the history of art and furniture & garden design. She has been elected twice to the board of their homeowners association in Ventura. The Ralston’s garden was featured on the 2013 Ventura Botanical Garden Tour.