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Misty Avila

Chief Impact Officer

She • Her • Hers


Misty currently serves as the Chief Impact Officer of the James B. McClatchy Foundation. With family roots and over 15 years of supporting nonprofits in the region, she cares deeply about the people and communities in the Central Valley of California.

Misty is at the forefront of the spend-down strategy to advance a multiracial democracy through the Foundation’s core goals: community-powered local journalism, multilingual education infrastructure, and nonprofit leadership. In this work, she is dedicated to shifting the philanthropic field to adopt equitable practices that center community voice and supports local community leaders.

She is part of a founding team for the Central Valley Journalism Collaborative, a nonprofit journalism infrastructure to restore the local, free press. Partnering with local and national media outlets, she supports funding for over 20 journalist positions, and seeds programs to develop the next generation of journalists in the region.

Misty brings over 15 years of nonprofit leadership, capacity building, and community organizing experience to her role. She is trained as a participatory design facilitator and has delivered over 100+ local and global convenings in multiple languages across 11 countries spanning issues of environment, immigration, women’s advocacy, art and culture, and youth media.

She currently holds nonprofit board positions for Aspiration, Journalism Funding Partners, and the California School Age Consortium (CalSAC).

I believe in the visions and voices of local leaders and families.. and define our success by how communities achieve their own goals.

Shaping success for others

My family is a restaurant family. My grandparents had restaurants, my parents owned a restaurant. My father’s side is from Zacatecas, Mexico. My mom was a waitress from Sacramento’s Oak Park. The story of my family was not only food but also being a community hub. In our restaurant business, we were doing more than feeding people, we were fostering connection.

Observing my parents provide a living for our family while bringing people together was my training ground. This was my introduction to understanding the meaning of creating space for fellowship and shared purpose. My family’s experience and stories initiated me into community work and philanthropy.

Bringing people together for a purpose is the core of what I do. Throughout the years, this work has taken me around the world, developing a participation-based facilitation process that forges connection, surfaces common understanding, and moves communities and organizations forward. This background carries through in my role at JMBF where I endeavor to cultivate a space for our grantee partners though collaboration, facilitation and engagement of their work in the community.

To me, success is defined by the communities I serve. It is driven by a desire to help people create opportunities for themselves, to be what they desire to be — changemakers who are shifting power dynamics in communities or personal transformations to become the change they hope to see in the world.

On a personal note

I am a proud mom of two daughters. I enjoy advocating for systems and narrative change led by youth voices. Some of my favorite times were dancing with the Latin Dance Grooves at the annual San Francisco Carnaval and volunteering with the Precita Eyes Murals, a community-based, mural arts organization.