Our vision is of a California where everyone has the opportunity to participate fully in the state’s economic, social, and political life. This will require our state to make smart policy choices and the right kinds of public investments. In working to accomplish this, our team is backed by a diverse and accomplished board of directors, ranging from advocacy leaders to the state’s top economists and researchers. The California Budget & Policy Center’s board members bring decades of experience, expertise, and results. In this blog series, we will introduce each of our board members and give you some insight into the leadership that supports and helps guide the Budget Center.
Kirke Wilson joined the California Budget & Policy Center’s board of directors in 2005. He has served on the Audit Committee and Finance Committee and was chair of the Executive Director Search Committee in 2012. He is also currently a member of the board of the Northern California Community Loan Fund, for which he served as chair from 2012 to 2016. Kirke is retired president of the Rosenberg Foundation, where he served for 31 years and managed grant programs on immigration policy and economic security. Prior to that, he was the West Coast manager of a public policy consulting firm, a staff member in the office of Governor Pat Brown, and a farm labor organizer in the San Joaquin Valley. Kirke has chaired the boards of the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, Northern California Grantmakers, Antenna Theater, the Agricultural Worker Charitable Trust, and the Foundations-Corporations Emergency Fund. In addition, he has served on the boards of The Foundation Center, Independent Sector, two theater groups, and a string orchestra. Kirke is a graduate of Yale University, where he majored in philosophy.
Why were you interested in joining the board of the Budget Center?
I was delighted to be able to join others who shared a commitment to making the state budget an instrument for fairness and opportunity for low-income residents of California.
If you could make one policy change in California, what would it be?
I would eliminate restrictions on safety net programs based on immigration status, self-employment, part-time employment and other factors and strengthen supportive services including child care, housing, transportation, job training and unemployment compensation.
What’s your favorite thing about living in California?
My favorite thing about California is that there is a long standing and bipartisan tradition of using the creativity and resources of state government to address critical social problems.
If you could have coffee with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?
I would love to have coffee with Carey McWilliams, the lawyer, social critic, and journalist whose 1939 book Factories in the Field continues to shape how we understand farm work in California.
What is something people don’t generally know about you?
Most people don’t know that I have published several articles on western history and am currently writing a history of the San Joaquin Valley.