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, Sacramento 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
Founder
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
PolicyLink
Oakland, CA
     
Laphonza Butler
President
SEIU-ULTCW
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
President
Children's Defense Fund
Washington, DC
DD Eisenberg
Child Advocate
Coral Gables, FL
George Gresham
President
1199 SEIU
Bronx, NY
     
Clay Grubb
President
Grubb Properties, Inc.
Charlotte, NC
Ruth-Ann Huvane
Child Advocate
Los Angeles, CA
Deborah Jewell-Sherman
Director
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
Actress
Los Angeles, CA
Bryan Stevenson, Esq.
Founder and Executive Director
Equal Justice Initiative
Montgomery, AL
     
 
Ali Wentworth
Actress
New York, NY
Reese Witherspoon
Actress
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.
(deceased)
Dorothy Height
(deceased)
Donna E. Shalala,
Chair, 1992 – 1993
     
Laura Chasin
(deceased)
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.
(deceased)
Robert Vagt,
Chair, 2005 – 2008
     
John Deardourff
(deceased)
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
(deceased)
     
Laura Wasserman Winifred Green
(deceased)
 
Join Our Team

CDF-CA Employment Opportunities

There are no job opportunities at Children's Defense Fund-California at this time.

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.