About Us

The Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) is the state office of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national child advocacy organization founded by Marian Wright Edelman that has worked relentlessly for over 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF-CA was established in 1998 to meet the needs of underserved children in the state of California. With offices in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Long Beach, CDF-CA champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, ensure all children have access to health coverage and care and a quality education, and invest in our justice-involved youth.

Our Mission

The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

CDF provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown.

CDF began in 1973 and is a private, nonprofit organization supported by individual donations, foundation, corporate and government grants.

Meet the Team

Board of Directors

Lan Bentsen, Co-Chair
Shape Tomorrow
Houston, TX
Carol Oughton Biondi
Board Member, California
State Advisory Committee
on Juvenile Justice &
Delinquency Prevention/
Board Member, ARC
(Anti-Recidivism Coalition
Los Angeles), CA
Angela Glover Blackwell, Co-Chair
Founder and CEO
Oakland, CA
Laphonza Butler
Los Angeles, CA
Deborah S. Cogut
Co-Founder and Vice Chair
The Polyphony Foundation
Greenwich, CT
Malaak Compton-Rock
Founder and Director
The Angelrock Project
New York, NY
George Gresham
Marian Wright Edelman
Children's Defense Fund
Washington, DC
DD Eisenberg
Child Advocate
Coral Gables, FL
George Gresham
1199 SEIU
Bronx, NY
Clay Grubb
Grubb Properties, Inc.
Charlotte, NC
Ruth-Ann Huvane
Child Advocate
Los Angeles, CA
Deborah Jewell-Sherman
Urban Superintendents Program
and Professor of Practice,
Harvard Graduate School
of Education, MA
Katie McGrath
Child Advocate
Los Angeles, CA

Ivanna Omeechevarria
Child Advocate
Alexandria, VA

Wendy Puriefoy
Child Advocate
Boston, MA
Jurnee Smollett
Martin Rodgers
Managing Director
Washington, DC Metro
Office and Executive
Director of Accenture’s
Nonprofit Group
Jurnee Smollett-Bell
Los Angeles, CA
Bryan Stevenson, Esq.
Founder and Executive Director
Equal Justice Initiative
Montgomery, AL
Ali Wentworth
New York, NY
Reese Witherspoon
Los Angeles, CA

Former CDF Board Members and Emeriti

Kirbyjon Caldwell Lucy Hackney Dennis Rivera
Geoffrey Canada,
Chair, 2008 - 2014
Howard Haworth Johnathan Rodgers
Lisle Carter, Jr.
Dorothy Height
Donna E. Shalala,
Chair, 1992 – 1993
Laura Chasin
David Hornbeck,
Chair, 1994 – 2005
Barbara Shaw
Hillary Rodham Clinton,
Chair 1986 – 1992
The Reverend William Howard J. Michael Solar
Maureen Cogan James Joseph,
Chair, 1993 – 1994
Susan Thomases
Leonard Coleman, Jr. Deborah Leff Thomas Troyer
Leslie Cornfeld, Esq. Marilyn Levitt Jason Tyler
Leslee Dart William Lynch, Jr.
Robert Vagt,
Chair, 2005 – 2008
John Deardourff
Charles Merrill, Jr. Suzanne Weil
James Forbes, Jr. Heidi Miller Abigail Wexner
James Forman, Jr. Eileen Norton Deborah Wright
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Leonard Riggio Pat Fallon
Laura Wasserman Winifred Green
Join Our Team

CDF-CA Employment Opportunities

If you would like to see employment opportunities at other Children's Defense Fund offices, please visit CDF's Career Center.

CDF-CA Internship Opportunities

Interns are a vital part of the Children's Defense Fund - California's team.

Our interns gain knowledge, skills, and experience in the most critical public policy issues facing children and develop a unique insider's view of non-profit advocacy, all while helping to make a difference in the lives of children and youth in California.

Learn more about available internships.