SAN FRANCISCO – The Rosenberg Foundation announced today the appointment of nationally recognized civil rights leader Lateefah Simon as Director of the Foundation’s California’s Future initiative, a strategic effort to change the odds for women and children in the state.
“Lateefah Simon has advocated on behalf of disadvantaged communities since her teenage years,” said Timothy P. Silard, president of the Rosenberg Foundation. “California faces critical choices on a number of urgent issues, from criminal justice reform to immigrant rights. Advocates and policy makers must seize this moment to ensure that all of our state’s communities and residents, including women and children, have access to the fair and equitable opportunities they need to thrive. We are delighted to have a civil rights activist of Lateefah Simon’s caliber and experience on board to move this initiative forward.”
In this new position, Simon will help manage and build the Foundation’s portfolio of grants aimed at supporting innovative strategies that can spur policy advocacy, communications, and constituency-building. As part of California’s Future, together with the Women’s Foundation of California, the Foundation has launched a campaign to reduce the incarceration rates of women in California’s prisons and jails. The Foundation also is partnering with Futures without Violence to prevent children’s exposure to violence and trauma, and create a network of services for child victims. To advance California’s Future, Simon will lead the Foundation’s efforts to identify and support emerging leaders and build new coalitions in California, with a particular focus on underserved regions of the state. She will join the Rosenberg Foundation on November 1.
“I’m honored to join Rosenberg and have the opportunity to advocate on a statewide level for the end of policies and practices that marginalize disadvantaged communities, over-incarcerate women, and neglect the needs of children exposed to violence,” said Simon. “I am particularly looking forward to collaborating with Rosenberg’s allies and grantee partners to transform California’s criminal justice system’s impact on women and children.”
A longtime advocate for juvenile and criminal justice reform, Simon most recently served as the executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Simon led the creation of the reentry services division at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, implementing new programs to prevent former offenders from returning to a life of crime. At age 19, Simon was appointed executive director of the Center for Young Women’s Development in San Francisco, an organization that helps low-income, formerly incarcerated young women transform and rebuild their lives. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the Jefferson Award for extraordinary public service. She was named “California Woman of the Year” by the California State Assembly, and also has been recognized by the Ford Foundation and the National Organization for Women. She has spoken at the United Nations, before the United States Senate, and at numerous trainings around the country.
“Lateefah Simon is a California leader of incredible stature and a well-deserved reputation for her comprehensive understanding of the issues faced by the many minority communities that together comprise the California majority, and the connections between those issues,” said Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Steering Committee Co-Chair for the California Civil Rights Coalition. “She will bring strength, wisdom, and tremendous spirit to the Rosenberg Foundation as it expands its unmatched efforts as California’s most venerable, longtime supporter of minority causes. Civil rights and immigrant rights will be helped immensely by Lateefah’s work at Rosenberg.”