Santiago “Sam” Ruiz
SFF Trustee, and Executive Director, Mission Neighborhood Centers
Why do you do what you do?
I envision a better future for our children and families. I am passionate about the work I do as a change agent, advocating for improved access and opportunities for my community. My career spans over four decades, and I am proud of bringing forward issues that require a bright light and action. I am an avid representative of community interest, bringing forth a grassroots experience. This energy was fueled by growing up in a hard-working Latino immigrant family. My early experiences created a drive to interrupt patterns of inequity for the children and families I serve. I continuously look back to my roots and purpose to further my engagement in my community work.
What drew you to serving on the board?
I was a recipient of the foundation’s Koshland Fellowship, which provided a unique learning experience for which I am grateful. I am true believer of giving back twice the amount that has been given to me.
How would you describe your role as a board member?
My responsibility is twofold: to act as an ambassador and to build a bridge and a relationship with the community. I bring a perspective that spans decades in conversations on community healing and equity. This experience, I hope, will bring intentional dialogue and influence how philanthropy can be a catalyst for social and economic policies that benefit communities in distress. My responsibility is to support a path to equity decision-making. To address equity, not equality, explicitly, truthfully and actionably.