Michael & Alicia Funk announce major gift to The Sierra Fund at Anniversary Party – and Governor Brown joins the celebration as well!

NEVADA CITY, 7 November 2011 – The Sierra Fund celebrated ten years of hard work to “save the Sierra” at their 10 Year Anniversary Event, Wednesday November 2 at the Citizen Hotel in downtown Sacramento.  Nearly 150 guests toasted The Sierra Fund alongside California Resources Secretary John Laird, followed by comments from guest Governor Jerry Brown.  Patty Brissenden, Chair of The Sierra Fund, kept the party going as “Mistress of Ceremony” from the first speeches to the cutting of the anniversary cake.  Click here for our event photo album!

Michael Funk at TSF's CelebrationMichael Funk, the organic food industry leader whose visionary gift of nearly $1 million inspired the founders of The Sierra Fund, wowed the crowd with his observations on the impact of The Sierra Fund in the past and the challenges it faces in the future – and then announced a gift from him and his wife Alicia Funk of $100,000 for The Sierra Fund.

This gift inspired other donors to bid high and often on the live and silent auction items offered that evening.  The Sierra Fund’s Board member, fish biologist Dr. Lisa Thompson, demonstrated her “dry suit” for snorkeling with the fishes, and other board members urged the crowd to bid on their offerings including a evening and dinner at Sorensen’s Resort, a float down the American River and a night of Irish music.

Secretary Laird laid out some of the history of the work that he did while in the Assembly to establish the “Laird/Leslie Sierra Nevada Conservancy” in 2004, and praised The Sierra Fund for their keystone work in getting that legislation passed and signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He also described some of the barriers faced by people concerned about the future of the Sierra, especially given the fact that most of the natural resources bond funds have been dispersed and there is no obvious new source of funds for conservation activities.  His speech was inspiration – and was made in the direct presence of his boss, Governor Jerry Brown.

Governor Brown at The Sierra Fund's CelebrationThe Governor, who was not slated to speak, was brought to the microphone by Secretary Laird.  Governor Brown took the opportunity to say a few words, including congratulating The Sierra Fund on ten years of service.  Brown’s remarks also focused on the difficulties ahead for people working to restore and protect natural resources, and urged new thinking on how to turn the tide toward a more productive future.

John Laird, Patty Brissenden, Izzy Martin and Governor BrownRegional leaders toasted The Sierra Fund’s effective work over its first ten years.  Lynn Sadler made a toast and thanked The Sierra Fund and their donor advised funds established by the Funks, Brissendens and Sorensen’s Resort, for cash flow loans that literally kept the doors of the Sierra Nevada Alliance open in 2008.  Sierra Nevada Conservancy Executive Director toasted The Sierra Fund, and recited a limerick he had created to honor The Sierra Fund CEO Elizabeth “Izzy” Martin.  Dr. Dave Brown of the CSU Chico Geological and Environmental Sciences Department toasted their partnership with The Sierra Fund, and Sierra Watch Executive Director presented Chairwoman Brissenden with a pink wooly cap in thanks for the financial support provided for their activities.

The Sierra Fund’s founder and first CEO and Chair of the Board, Shawn Garvey, made a stirring toast to the other founding board members, including Michael Killigrew and Sarah Forslund – and then made a toast to Secretary Laird for what he was “going to do next for our Sierra.”

Garvey, Funk and current Chair Patty Brissenden were each given living pine trees as awards to recognize their leadership at The Sierra Fund.  Current Board Treasurer John Regan was also recognized for his ten years of service on the Board of The Sierra Fund.

The Sierra Fund Board of DirectorsThe Sierra Fund Staff“This successful event generated new revenue for vital activities in the Sierra Nevada,” noted Michael Funk.  “Alicia and I are proud to support The Sierra Fund in its crucial mission to increase investment in the region, and look forward to their next ten years of service to our Sierra Nevada.”

Our sincere thanks to all The Sierra Fund’s supporters over the last ten years, and particularly the sponsors of our ten year celebration:  Michael Funk, Sorensen’s Resort, John and Patty Brissenden, Alison Harvey and Dave Loera, Don and Madeleine Simborg, Jan Chatten-Brown, Warren and Ingrid Knox, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Izzy Martin and Dr. Greg Taylor, the South Yuba River Citizens League, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Community Conservation Solutions, CSU Chico Alumni Association, Friends of Hope Valley, Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Nevada Alliance, and the Trust for Public Land.