Surina Tribute - Women's Foundation California

“Always in awe of Surina´s powers to transform an organization, to respond with the most creative solutions, and to shape the path of culture change. I think of Surina as a brave visionary and a generous leader, and I celebrate that her legacy will keep on giving, transforming and advancing gender justice in California and beyond. Con toda mi admiración y cariño”

Norma Alvarez
WFC Board Emeritus

“Surina, your steadfast, generous, and bold leadership style inspires me every day. Thank you for believing in me and for your partnership, and for being a role model in my life.”

Elena Chavez Quezada,
Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

“Hey Surina, I remember having tea during your first year at the Foundation, and you talked about your dreams and hopes for the work. Your strong and steady leadership took a fragile and uncertain org and made it into the amazing and impactful org it is today. Well done, dearheart. Thank you.”

Akaya Windwood

“Learning together
You as CEO
Me as Chair
What a team we made
Friends and Colleagues forever
Love and Solidarity”

Gretchen Sandler

“Surina, you introduced me to philanthropy and cemented one of the most important values that I still carry with me in every job which is to always be kind, respectful and to honor the work of the organizations and people we fund and the people who we work with. Also, as importantly, you made sure we took time to enjoy ourselves and to celebrate the work. Thank you!!”

Brook Kelly-Green,
Schusterman Family Philanthropies

“Surina! You’ve always set an example of compassionate, visionary leadership, keeping the eyes of WFC and all of us on those with the least voice and access. It’s been a privilege to be a counterpart of yours and I and all my Horizons colleagues wish you every good fortune ahead.”

Roger Doughty,
Horizons Foundation

“I am so grateful to Surina for her feminist leadership and vision at the Women’s Foundation of California. Thank you Surina for your hard work and transformative leadership fighting for gender and racial justice over so many years. We owe you a debt of gratitude.”

Michelle Mercer,

“Surina is nothing short of extraordinary. When I joined the Women’s Foundation board in 2016, the organization was facing daunting challenges. Surina led the Foundation through those stormy seas with exceptional skill. Thanks to her leadership, the Women’s Foundation is healthy and strong today and well-positioned for years to come.”

Linda Gebroe
Former Board Member,
Women’s Foundation California

“I have frequently likened Surina to a magician. Through a combination of integrity, transparency, intellect, and good humor, she has repeatedly conjured more funds for our feminist causes. It was an immense privilege to work with Surina as a board member and chair. I learned so much from our time together. Three cheers for our national treasure!”

Michelle Cale,
Former Board Member, Women’s Foundation California

“Surina has been a generous mentor and close friend for over 23 years, when I followed her at Political Research Associates, my first job outside of academia. That mentorship and friendship has continued since, as I followed her into philanthropy. Her principled yet pragmatic progressive politics is something I’ve learned a great deal from, as I also have from her deep passion for gender, racial, economic, and social justice. I can’t wait to see where she will contribute her leadership and commitment next.”

Nikhil Aziz,
American Jewish World Service

“Where do I begin to honor you Surina? You are the sage, wise-women, deep-thinking visionary who sees the world as it should be and then takes all of us on a journey to get there, with you. You have led, guided, mentored and supported so many of us along the way. While sometimes it’s hard to see all the progress you’ve catalyzed…we see it; we celebrate it; and, most of all, we celebrate YOU!”

Heather McCulloch,
The Aspen Institute

“As a founding Board member, I was deeply grateful for your leadership, especially navigating a challenging period of the WFC. Because of your leadership, Women’s Foundation is well-positioned to lead the feminist movement in CA. Enjoy spaciousness to take walks, garden, and cook. Look forward to sampling your fine cooking!”

Jai Wong,
Founding Board Member WFC

“I have to say it, Surina!
You are amazing! You are full of exceptional wisdom and have given us your boldest leadership in extraordinary times. Plus a staff & consulting team, & policy makers & funders who believe in us as never before. With gratitude for the cultural shift to mutual respect, care and trust, for Bia, and your generous extensions & legacy gifts that enable our future to keep assuring continued change for all. Brava!”

Tracy Gary,
Women’s Foundation California

“Surina, it has been such a gift to witness your leadership across so many spaces – from PRA, to Ford, to the CA Women’s Foundation and our Rockwood cohort. I’ve learned so much from watching you consider how to make real impacts, while holding your values in everything from program design to organizational culture. I hope that you have space to dream big, use your creativity, and connect with all that is sacred to you. Massive hugs!”

Trishala Deb,
Collaborative for Gender + Reproductive Equity

“PT Ranch had the opportunity to host the Womens Foundation leadership team for a three day offsite. It was a delight to see the group in action and Surina’s magnificent star quality shine through. She led with a gentle hand and a warm smile, inspiring the best in her team and those around her. I wish Surina the very best in her next chapter!”

Emily Taylor, PT Ranch

“It has truly been an honor and a delight to work with Surina in my capacity as a board member of the Women’s Foundation of California. She brings strong, purposeful leadership and clarity of vision as well as a sense of fun and camaraderie. [WFC] is stronger and more effective as a result of Surina’s illustrious tenure as its Executive Director and I am a better person and a better member of its board as a result of her leadership and friendship. Whatever comes next for you, Surina, I know it will be of benefit to your friends, family, colleagues, and the wider world. Thank you, truly and deeply.”

Susan Pritzker,
Board Member, Women’s Foundation California

“What I was sharing with Surina how her leadership had impacted my experience as a former staff member. During our chat, I realized that she was just noticing what a vast ripple affects her authentic leadership had both into the future and reaching even to the past.”

Fabiola DeCaratachea
Board Member,
Women’s Foundation California

“We must have our internal house in order before we do the external work.” You lead with heart and imagination. Thank you for always leading the sector with your words and actions. We are grateful for your partnership and support as we work towards a just and equitable California.”

Karla Mer,
SoCal Grantmakers

“Thank you for embodying joyful leadership and for the authenticity, kindness and love with which you show up for your friends and colleagues. I think of you as my elder sister in this work and am always grateful for the fierceness with which you lead. Thank you for your decades of unfailing commitment to justice and liberation. Honored to know you and celebrate you today and always.”

Rajasvini Bhansali,
Solidaire Network

“From the day I first met her at the Ford Foundation, Surina has inspired and championed all those who work with her to dream big and aspire to our fullest potential. Her exemplary record of leadership through organizational change and long legacy of empowering social movement leaders is rightfully celebrated now and will be for years to come. Brava to my sister from another mister, Surina Khan!”

Vik Malhotra

“Surina and I and our spouses have been friends for over 15 years. It has been an incredible honor and privilege to work with Surina as a board member at WFC these last 7 years and witness her unflappable leadership during the foundation’s transformation.”

Will Guerra,
Board Member,
Women’s Foundation California

“Surina, I can’t believe it’s been 19 years since we worked together on the LA Donor Circle in 2004, then having the privilege to witness your evolution to CEO of Women’s Foundation of ÇA. The depth and breadth of your visioning and leadership is extraordinary while remaining calm: cheers to Sea Ranch and wise partnering. Thank you for all of it.”

Lise Paul

I’ve had the privilege of knowing Surina for nearly two decades through our collective journeys through the reproductive justice and social justice movements. Throughout that time, my admiration for Surina’s brilliance, strategic savvy, kindness, and heart has continued to grow and strengthen.

Surina, you are a tremendous inspiration to me and to countless other feminist activists, leaders, and community members whose lives you continue to touch and strengthen through your vast wisdom, unwavering justice, and by making positive and transformative change. As you embark upon this new journey, I send all my best wishes that you continue to be filled with joy, love, and justice.”

Rocio Cordoba
Executive Director at California Latinas for Reproductive Justice

“Since taking the CEO helm in 2014, you transformed the Women’s Foundation into a powerhouse beyond anything we might have believed possible. The circumstances you inherited were dire and the stakes were unbearably high to address the Foundation’s critical challenges in record speed or it might not survive. You took decisive action, garnered new partners to join you, and made deep structural shifts on many levels. When the Foundation was stabilized, you led aggressive re-envisioning and fundraising so that the Foundation could become a high impact, values centered, grantmaking and change making organization with financial muscle and a big reach. You are an extraordinary leader and because you were the right person at a pivotal time, your legacy will be long and brilliant. I treasure the friendship we developed in the trenches of organizational culture shift.”

Lee Draper,
Former President, Draper Consulting Group

“Dear Surina, You stepped up to lead the Women’s Foundation California at a time of great need and took it far beyond what many imagined it could be. WFC’s impact and yours have been enormously beneficial for the girls and women of California, and beyond. May your next chapter bring great happiness and unexpected joy. With enduring gratitude.”

Belinda Smith Walker,
Founding Board Chair, LA Women’s Foundation

“I’m in awe of the transformational leadership you brought to The Women’s Foundation during your tenure. It has become a force to reckon with in all the ways that matter. You should be so very proud of what you have built! Enjoy your next chapter!”

Chris Essel,
SoCal Grantmakers

“It was my first day in philanthropy, and I was at our partner seminar in Paris. I found myself seated beside Surina, and I struck up a conversation where I shared my qualms about the sector, and she responded with the transformative work of WFC and the Solís Policy Institute!”

Raymond Ampil,
Fondation CHANEL

“Surina cultivated and transitioned the love and appreciation shown to her, into love and appreciation of the entire staff and organization. The definition of love united. That is a very rare trait, and a picture of exemplary leadership!”

Quency Phillips,
Lighthouse Silicon Valley

“Surina, I deeply appreciate your powerful intellect, your curiosity, your kindness, your candor and your HUMOR. Oh, and did I say irreverence? You taught me so much when I was at the Foundation, and I continue to learn and be inspired by your commitment to a BOLD, LOVING, JUST feminism. LOVE you!”

Sande Smith,
The California Wellness Foundation

“Surina cultivated and transitioned the love and appreciation shown to her, into love and appreciation of the entire staff and organization. The definition of love united. That is a very rare trait, and a picture of exemplary leadership!”

Katrina Cantrell,
Women’s Health Specialists
Chico Feminist Women’s Health Center

“Yay Surina! Congratulations on your 19 years of service with WFC, and on your next phase! Working with you and learning from you was a tremendous opportunity because you are an amazing leader and a caring colleague. Sending lots of well wishes, and continuing gratitude for your commitment to justice!”

Clanci Cochran
Former WFC Staff Member

“Surina is a a fearless leader, a force for good, and a dear friend. She has built the Women’s Foundation of California into a beacon of all the best that womens’ funds can be. It is an invitation to women donors to throw off the habit of deferring decisions to male preference, it resources feminist women’s orgs across the state and it has advanced women-centered public policy. And all with joy and her fantastic laugh! Love you, Surina!!!”

Crystal Hayling,
The Libra Foundation

“Surina is a role model for so many of us who are leading progressive organizations! Her commitment to ensuring that WFCA lives its values is inspiring and her advice for how we all can do the same is invaluable!”

Sandra Fluke,
Voices for Progress

“Surina has been my coach since I started as CEO of Pride Foundation and I honestly do not think I would have made it through these first 4 years without her support, guidance, and perspective. I have learned so much from her and how to approach my work and leadership in a liberatory and joyful way, and has resulted in her impact stretches far beyond our coaching relationship!”

Katie Carter,
Pride Foundation

“Across countless board and committee meetings, philanthropic conferences, and causal meals and drinks, I’ve known Surina to consistently be one of the brightest, kindest, and most fun people in the room. The world is a better place because of Surina, and I feel incredibly lucky to call her a friend!”

Lyle Matthew Kan

“Surina, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and to celebrate all that you have done, certainly at the Women’s Foundation of CA, but also at Ford and at Funders for LGBTQ Issues, etc. Your wisdom and commitment and your lovely manner have been so appreciated by me and your colleagues in philanthropy. May you go from strength to strength.”

Cindy Rizzo

“Girl!! What a joy and honor to have known you all these years. You have made such an impact on my life and the lives of so many others. Your leadership has been inspiring for all bad-ass women committed to full justice for all. Love you Surina!!”

Kate Kendell

“I have admired Surina’s leadership for a long time. I love watching her lead with heart and with integrity inspiring us all to new levels.”

Kristin Hull,
Nia Impact Capital

“I remember taking a training on gravitas as a young person in philanthropy. They asked us to imagine someone we admire who leads with purpose and commands respect and the person I thought of was you. Sending appreciation and gratitude for the leader and role model you are.”

Rye Young

“Surina Khan is my dearest of friends and a colleague extraordinaire. For several decades we have stood beside each other or supported each from the shadows. She is deeply thoughtful and intellectually astute both as a friend and as a leader among our movements. Surina is the ultimate fierce feminist manifested in a calm, caring and can-do spirit. Devoted foodie, loyal friend and social justice feminist maven, I honor you with love and appreciation today and always.”

Acey (Katherine)

Women’s Health Specialist

“Thank you for being a friend. Travel down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant. And if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew. You would see the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend. I love you”

Joel Perez,
The California Endowment

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