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A Letter from Liz Simons, Chair of the Board

Dear Colleagues:

Some 15 years ago, when our family foundation was barely a glimmer in our eye, I met Deanna at an early childhood education gathering in San Jose. Deanna stood out from the other policy experts; she was brilliant, steeped in knowledge about young children’s learning. I was delighted when she agreed to go out to lunch with me and talk to me about everything she knew.

That serendipitous meeting was the beginning of an incredible journey together. Deanna became our first director of education, creating a line of work that continues to this day. Later, after we asked her to be our CEO and president, she methodically transformed our fledgling “kitchen table” enterprise into the thriving Foundation we have today, one that supports transformational work in not only early childhood education and care, but also climate and clean energy, science, human rights, and more.

The scope of what she has built is testament to her ability to work collaboratively and in harmony with our Board and staff, even as we have grown to 56 employees! And as national events and authoritarian momentum have underscored the importance of exploring additional tools, she also presided over the recent creation of a sister organization, the Heising-Simons Action Fund, that has the capacity to leverage politically what we are seeking to achieve philanthropically. Ultimately what we care about is the ability of all people, especially people who have been historically marginalized, to have access to things we all need: childcare, knowledge, a livable earth, and whole, safe, dignified lives. Despite the many obstacles that have confronted us as a society, including the pandemic, Deanna has led us to a place where we are well-positioned and energized to work with our grantees and allies to deliver on addressing these urgent needs.

I’d like to close with a few words from my daughter and fellow Board member, Vice Chair Caitlin Heising:

“Deanna steadily led the foundation from a small start-up to the much larger but still dynamic organization we have today. I’m grateful for her thoughtful and open-minded leadership, and will always count her as a friend and mentor. I’m confident that she leaves the Foundation in a strong position and I’m excited to continue to build on her legacy with our next CEO.”

Liz Simons
Chair of the Board

Note: On July 13, 2022, Heising-Simons Foundation President and CEO Deanna Gomby announced her retirement. To read the Foundation main announcement, click here.