Carole Ann Libarle
Member of the Board, Executive Committee, VP Development
Petaluma Education Foundation
200 Douglas Street
Petaluma, California 94952
Grants and Scholarships: 707-778-5063
Describe your organization.
The Mission Statement of the Petaluma Educational Foundation
Every child has a dream.
The Petaluma Educational Foundation creates community partnerships to fulfill these dreams.
By matching the passions of investors with the creativity of our educators, PEF funds programs to enhance and enrich the academic experience of all students.
We believe in them. We empower them. We invest in their future.
The Petaluma Educational Foundation (PEF) was founded in 1982 by a group of Petaluma citizens, chaired by attorney Clyde Nelson, who were concerned about cuts to our educational system following the passage of Prop 13 (the Jarvis – Gann initiative). The mission of the Foundation is to raise funds for innovative and collaborative programs to supplement what was being mandated by the State of California.
PEF is state chartered 501 C3. It is a private foundation and does not receive city, district or state funds. PEF operates independently of the Petaluma School districts but is closely aligned with our educational community.
The primary mission of PEF is to provide funding for the Grants Program. Local teachers and their school communities write proposals for classroom projects that are reviewed by a committee of PEF board members and staff and selected for consideration. Next, the teachers, principals and students make a presentation to the Grant Review Committee following which the grants are chosen for funding. The grants are implemented at the school site and an evaluation sent to PEF following completion. (See Petaluma 360, Laura Bradley for recent article regarding PEF)
PEF also has an extensive Scholarship Program that benefits graduating seniors from our local high schools. Scholarship applications are submitted to the school counselors who forward them to PEF where they are reviewed and awarded by a Scholarship Committee. One of the most rewarding events for PEF is the Scholarship Reception, held each May, when students and their families gather to receive their awards and tell about their plans for the next year. The scholarships go to graduates who are going to 4-year colleges, vocational programs, junior colleges and training programs of many kinds. Recepients range from A+ students in college prep to those who are already parents themselves and those who are the first in their family to graduate from high school.
PEF has give out $2.3 million in grants to teachers and $2.3 in scholarships since its inception in 1982. PEF has an endowment of over $4 million, which a group of local investment and wealth management professionals.
The PEF board is made up of 32 volunteers from the community and a staff of 4. PEF also runs Alphabet Soup Benefit Thrift Store in downtown Petaluma with a staff of 12. ABC Thrift has 2 locations on the same block – ABC Home and ABC Clothing.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born and raised in Petaluma, graduating from Petaluma High School in 1959. After graduating from Mills College with a major in history, I married Dan Libarle, also a 1959 graduate of PHS.
I was hired by the County of Sonoma as a social worker where I stayed for three years until my first daughter, Nicole, was born. My second daughter, Phoebe, was born 2 ½ years later.
I was a stay at home mom who first became involved with our local schools when my girls started elementary school. I served on local PTA boards and fundraisers. I joined the PEF Board when my girls in high school and have served as president and development vice president as well as on other committees.
Dan and I are the owners of Lace House Linen, a commercial linen supply company located in Petaluma. Dan’s grandfather started in the laundry business in San Francisco in the early 1900’s. Lace House Linen has been in existence in Petaluma since 1915. Our daughters – Nicole Marzo and her husband Richard, and Phoebe Ellis and her husband Geoff Ellis – now run the daily operations with a little advice from Dan.
Dan and I are the grandparents of 6 – 5 boys and Lucie Jane. They all attend Petaluma schools, play local sports, take music and dance classes, work at Lace House and bring great joy and loud noise to us and our home.
I do serve on several other boards and believe that a collaborative effort between the nonprofit world and the business world is the best way to serve the community. I believe that PEF exists to be a vehicle for donors who want to make an impact on the education of our children now and in the future.
What do you see as your role on the organization’s board?: Working with new and continuing board members and staff to promote the mission of PEF. PEF is a vehicle through which donors can have an impact on our schools and our community. (See Chronicle regarding the Benioff gift to San Francisco schools)
What achievement are you most proud of?: I am most proud of my family. I am so lucky to have my daughters, their husbands and my six grandchildren living and working in Petaluma. They can carry on the work of the Petaluma Educational Foundation and other nonprofits in our area.
Regarding PEF, I am proud of the growth that has occurred and the programs that have developed though the generosity of our community.
What is your biggest challenge today?: PEF’s biggest challenge is remaining relevant in the community, promoting the mission, stewarding our current donors, reaching new donors (businesses and individuals) and building our endowment while continuing to support our educational community. PEF is committed to bringing new programs to our schools.
PEF has a small staff shouldering the responsibilities of complex organization. The board works closely in committees and with staff to run the organization and to be accountable to our donors. We also have committees make which include community members. There are a lot of balls in the air!
What is the next major project either under way or on the horizon?: PEF is committed to building our endowment in order to insure that there will be funds for the Grants Program in perpetuity.
What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively? The staff is not a service or product but definitely the biggest asset that PEF has in helping the board. I have been lucky enough to work with two amazing EDs – Sally Johnson and Janet Ramatici- and am looking forward to working closely with PEF’s new ED, Cate Steane. I depend on Katy Verke, Maureen Highland, Laurelle Anspach and Sharon Kimball as well as Ron Bausman, the Alphabet Soup guru.
My fellow board members are committed to the mission of PEF and are passionate about the education of our children. They make the work of PEF rewarding and also fun.
What do you feel are the greatest responsibilities of a nonprofit’s board?: The board exists to serve the mission of the organization, to promote the fundraising activities of the organization and to assist the ED and Staff in getting the message out to the community about the possibilities that the nonprofit offers for donors to make things happen.
How do you see the role of the board member both within the organization and in the broader community?: I personally believe that every child is born with the right to have food, shelter and health care. I also believe that the education of our children is the most important mission facing us as a society.
I once heard a woman speak about the need for education. We are training our next doctors, teachers, lawyers, scientists, bankers, politicians, artists, musicians and social workers. We want our children to deal with and solve the many complicated issues and challenges that exist in an ever changing and complex world
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: That is an interesting question. There are many business people who I admire. My own father August Lepori was in real estate and insurance. He served as the chairman of the local draft board during World War II and was the founding president for the Petaluma Boys and Girls Club. Dan’s uncle, Gene Benedetti, set the standard for community involvement with Clover Stornetta.
Frank Doyle of Exchange Band certainly created a legacy when he left his stock to Santa Rosa Junior College and the Doyle Scholarship fund.
These are people who I admire and respect and who have inspired me. I admire my fellow board members at PEF. I admire everyone in the business community who give generously of their time, their advice, their interest and their financial support to make this a better place to live and raise families.
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