Veronica Blake earns award for Placer County leadershipBy: Gloria Young, Reporter
State of the Community Dinner
When: Cocktails at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7
Where: The Ridge Golf Course and Events Center, 2020 Golf Course Road, Auburn
Tickets: $50 per person
More information and tickets: auburnchamber.net
As executive director of the Placer Community Foundation, Veronica Blake gets to steer philanthropy where it is needed in the community.
“She and her team help people carry out their charitable intentions in a variety of ways,” Placer County Board of Supervisors District 5 Director Jocelyn Maddux said in a press release. “From helping donors leave their legacy to setting up family funds that have immediate impact, board and staff at PCF work diligently to align donors with causes they care about. The foundation’s donors have granted millions of dollars to a variety of important programs that support seniors, arts, animals, the environment, children, health and more.”
Blake’s leadership efforts have earned her this year’s Placer County award.
“(She is being honored for) her tireless work this past year on the housing crises in Placer County,” Maddux said.
For Blake, it is an honor to be shared.
“I am one of a huge team of people working on this,” she said. “It is a group effort. The whole idea of being able to make sure we have attainable housing means we all have to work on it together. It requires a team approach.”
Blake grew up in Citrus Heights and has lived in the region her entire life. She moved to Auburn in the late 1990s. Her experience leading nonprofits dates from that time — with Placer SPCA for seven years and with Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation for three years prior to being part of Placer Community Foundation since its inception.
“What was appealing to me was being part of the community I love and live in and working with generous people who want to keep it wonderful,” Blake said. “They are giving to causes in the community that add to our quality of life here. ... I love working with volunteers and board members and really love working with donors. It is terrific to help people with their philanthropy.”
Blake has been focused on Placer County housing issues for the past three years.
“We could see people were really struggling to stay in their homes,” she said. “I am also on the Placer County Economic Development Board and saw it as a workforce development issue. We have people who can’t afford to live here. They have to commute to work. That is just not as good for the community. They can’t live where they work and that impacts families.”
Blake has been recognized as a community leader for the past 14 years. In 2009 PCF was recognized for its work and received the Grantmaker of the Year award for the Sacramento region. Under Blake’s leadership, PCF launched a nonprofit initiative designed to help local nonprofit organizations deliver higher quality, more sustainable, more valuable community services and this is achieved through regular training support. This popular program provided over 1,900 hours of free training in 2017, Maddux said in the release.
“This type of leadership in the community is what sparked Placer Housing Matters, a housing communications project that PCF launched in 2014,” she said.
“Placer County is the fastest growing county in the state of California and when you hear about everyday people — firefighters who protect us, school teachers shaping the young minds of tomorrow, and the workforce at large struggling to afford to live in Placer County, that’s a problem,” Blake said in the release. “The foundation realized we had to do more. Philanthropy alone cannot solve the housing crisis.”
The purpose of Placer Housing Matters is to educate the public on the need for attainable housing for the workforce in Placer County. Blake works closely with many community volunteers to shine a light on the affordable housing problem and encourages elected officials to adopt strategies that make housing affordable for all of the county’s residents, Maddux said.
“Forty-six percent of Placer County residents are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, which means they don’t have as much money to spend on their kids, health care, food and all those quality of life things that makes living here special,” Blake said.
But she is seeing some progress on the issue. A 79-unit affordable housing project for families was recently approved by the Board of Supervisors.
“The funding must be put together,” she said. “The developer is Mercy Housing. The project is probably two or three years out.”