This year we are thinking a lot about change. While it is always among us, the change many of us are experiencing now seems more pervasive and consequential. At the national level, we are seeing dramatic shifts in politics and policies, as well as divisive and sometimes hateful rhetoric that is spreading into our national psyche. These changes in policy and discourse impact us all and have created considerable anxiety as many grapple with the uncertainties that they, their families, and communities now face about their futures.
For those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area, change has become a way of life. Gentrification, displacement, and rising costs are realities for many Bay Area families as well as businesses and service providers. Families are increasingly commuting throughout the region as work, school, and other activities take us to different neighborhoods, cities, and even counties every day. These demands also impact our public systems and service providers as they work to keep up with the changing needs and lifestyles of families and communities in the Bay Area.
ZFF experienced its own transition early this year when our board chair, friend, mentor, and father to some, Bill Zellerbach passed away at age 96. Bill served on the ZFF board for over 50 years and led ZFF as its chairman for almost 40 years, building the foundation into what it is today. While it was his passion, the work was not always easy and often meant taking risks and sometimes unpopular positions on important issues. It is through Bill’s leadership, resilience, and optimism that ZFF has continued to strengthen families and communities in the Bay Area in times of progress as well as times of great uncertainty.
In reflecting on Bill’s legacy, it occurs to us that the approach he took starting over 50 years ago couldn’t be more relevant today. As we face the many layers of change that lie ahead, we will strive to be leaders in the work by taking brave stances even when they are unpopular, remaining resilient to the negative forces that challenge our efforts and distract us from our mission, and most importantly, continuing to believe in our grantees, stakeholders, and the communities that we serve. Our optimism about our ability as a community to navigate this time of change and overcome adversity strengthens our work and toughens our resolve.
All of us at ZFF are eager to continue Bill’s legacy. Together, with our partners old and new, we will seize the new opportunities that come with change to ensure that all Bay Area families and communities are healthy and strong.