October 25, 2021

Imperial Valley’s Response to Resiliency: Webinar

Lessons from COVID-19: Short-term, Rapid Response is Not a Sustainable Plan

Join us for this special (virtual + free) convening of funders and nonprofits to discuss Imperial Valley’s Response to Resiliency:

  • Where we’ve been
  • Where we’re heading
  • How best to get there, and
  • With whom?


This event will bring together two communities:

  • Funders who contributed to Imperial Valley’s response to the devastating impact of Covid-19 and others interested in helping the region. Funders from outside Imperial Valley have an interest and desire to become more familiar with the nonprofits that make up the region’s social safety net and can share how to better work with funders.
  • Local nonprofits that directly serve the residents of the Valley and can share their stories about how the Covid pandemic really put a focus on the lack of health and wellness resources in the Valley for decades, and the unmet needs that affect the most vulnerable.

A panel discussion about the impact and response to COVID-19 will launch us into a regional discussion during the webinar about how to strengthen our health and wellness system so it will be better prepared for the next emergency and be more resilient in serving the community on a day-to-day basis. We hope you’ll join us for this free webinar.


photo of tony rouhotasTony Rouhotas, Jr., County Executive Officer, Imperial County

Tony Rouhotas, Jr., is the County Executive Officer for the County of Imperial. He has served in the position since December 30, 2017. Mr. Rouhotas has been a dedicated county employee since 1992 when he was hired as a Reserve Firefighter for the Imperial County Fire Department. Mr. Rouhotas has served in several positions with the Department since, working his way up the ranks, including Firefighter/Paramedic, Fire Captain, Deputy Fire Chief/Training Officer, and Assistant Fire Chief. Mr. Rouhotas served in his most recent position as the Imperial County Fire Chief/Office of Emergency Services Coordinator since 2008.

As the County Executive Officer, Mr. Rouhotas manages, directs and coordinates 26 departments comprised of more than 2,400 staff members who work to provide a variety of services including social services, health services, public works, public safety and other general government services to the residents of Imperial County.

photo of dr. adolph edwardDr. Adolphe Edward, CEO, El Centro Regional Medical Center

Adolphe Edward is the chief executive officer for El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC), an acute care medical center in Southern California’s Imperial Valley that is affiliated with the UC San Diego Health Care Network. He brings to the position more than 29 years of experience in health care strategy and operations at public and private systems worldwide.

Dr. Edward was most recently market CEO of Kindred HealthCare, a Fortune 100 company where he helped grow market share for inpatient services. He has also held senior leadership roles at hospitals across the U.S. and abroad, focusing on attracting new patients and growing specialty services. These positions include Chief Medical Operations for Honeywell, where he oversaw medical operations at multiple locations in Turkey, Oman and United Arab Emirates, as well as a dual role as chief operating officer and chief quality officer for Dell’s health sciences division/SEHA in Abu Dhabi, where he was responsible for 9 hospitals and over 60 clinics in the UAE health system. Prior to that, Dr. Edward held many executive leadership positions in health care for the U.S. Air Force for over 22 years.

He holds a doctorate in healthcare administration and leadership from the Medical University of South Carolina, a master’s of strategy and international relations from Air University (U.S. Air Force), an MS in healthcare administration from Trinity University, an MBA from Florida Metropolitan University, and a BS in biological studies from Wichita State University. He also earned several certifications related to leadership and management.

Dr. Edward is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and a diplomate of the American Academy of Medical Administrators (AAMA).

photo of sara griffen

 Sara Griffen, Executive Director, Imperial Valley Food Bank

Sara Griffen is a native of York, Pennsylvania. She graduated with a BFA from Moore College of Art and Design, in Philadelphia. After graduation, she moved to New York City, where her first job was working with the Muppets, specializing in costumes for Miss Piggy. She moved to Seventh Avenue, where she designed dresses for the houses of St. Gillian, Bichon and Tony Lambert.

After moving to California in 1997, she began her second career in Fundraising as the Special Events Director of South Coast Repertory. In 2004, Ms. Griffen became the Director of Special events for the Pacific Symphony, where she had the privilege to work with such classical music greats as Joshua Bell, Hillary Hahn, Pinkus Zuckerman and Yo-Yo Ma. Her events raised millions of dollars for the performing arts in Orange County.

Sara and her family moved to the Imperial Valley in 2009 when her husband, the Rev. Dr. Ron Griffen was appointed to First United Methodist Church of El Centro to serve as its Senior Pastor. After working for the El Centro Chamber of Commerce as its Director of Programs, Ms. Griffen began her third career as the Executive Director of the Imperial Valley Food Bank. Her work with the Food Bank has benefited the County and brought her acclaim, earning her the 2013 Woman of the Year award in the 51st Congressional District for her work raising awareness and providing in roads to address the chronic hunger problem in Imperial County. Ms. Griffen has a Master’s Degree in Food Systems and Society from Marylhurst University. She serves as a Board member on the Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation and the California Association of Food Banks. Her work with the Imperial Valley Food Bank led the organization to be named the inaugural Non-profit of the Year by the California Legislature for their district in 2016 and the organization was awarded this honor again in 2020.

Jessica Solorio, President, Spread the Love Charity

Located in the Imperial Valley, Spread the Love Charity is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to provide resources for the less fortunate, strengthen, unite and love our community and touch as many hearts as possible. Spread the Love Charity acts as the conduit between those in need and resources available to meet those needs.  With the support of community, non-profit organizations, government programs and local philanthropic efforts, Spread the Love facilitates getting needs taken care of – some examples may include access to meals, clothing, hygiene items, transportation, housing and so much more.  From supporting with financial assistance for rent deposits, to helping get access to eye glasses, to supplying holiday gifts, Spread the Love’s work focuses on providing support to uplift those who have fallen on hard times.


carol pertowski photoCarol Pertowski, Associate Vice President for Systems Integration / COVID Response, CDC Foundation

Carol Pertowski is a public health physician and medical epidemiologist. Since June, she has worked as the Associate Vice President for Systems Integration at the Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This project is supporting public health response efforts in state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments through the assignment of ~ 2,300 field staff.

Carol completed an undergraduate degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University, a medical degree from Tulane University, and a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Rochester. After completing the Epidemic Intelligence Service training and a Preventive Medicine Residency at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she joined the CDC staff and worked in epidemiology and surveillance, environmental health, public health preparedness and response, and communications.  Her work included establishing the national surveillance system for childhood lead poisoning; serving as the first Medical Director of Epi-X, a primary method of communication about emerging health events for CDC, health departments and other government partners; and responding to emergencies including pandemic influenza, anthrax, and carbon monoxide poisonings following hurricanes. She also served as an Associate Regional Administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and oversaw funding of Quality Improvement Organizations and End Stage Renal Disease Networks in 13 states. Carol retired as a Captain from the US Public Health Service in 2016 and earned a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco in May 2019.  She joined the Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May 2020 as a Senior Advisor on the Covid-19 Response for states, territories and tribes in HHS Region 9.

photo of kara carterKara Carter, Senior Vice President Strategy & Programs, California Health Care Foundation

Kara Carter is senior vice president of strategy and programs at the California Health Care Foundation, where she develops strategies, provides overall guidance, and leads the program teams in the development, execution, and assessment of CHCF’s work. In this role, Kara provides thought leadership and support to CHCF’s grantmaking programs and priorities, as well as CHCF’s program-related investments and learning and impact functions.

Prior to joining CHCF, Kara was a partner at McKinsey & Company’s San Francisco and London offices. She was a leader in McKinsey’s Medicaid practice in the US, and supported public and private sector health systems in the US, UK, and Europe to improve quality, access, and affordability.

Before joining McKinsey, Kara worked for UK-based philanthropic institutions on a broad range of topics related to poverty and community action. Kara received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, a master’s in social anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a master’s in business administration from the London Business School. She currently serves on the UC Davis Health National Advisory Board.

roque barros pictureRoque Barros, Executive Director, Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation

Prior to joining Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation in 2021, Roque most recently served as the director for the Ford Institute for Community Building, an arm of the Ford Family Foundation. In that role, he was responsible for the development and coordination of more than 90 local projects serving thousands of individuals across Oregon and Northern California. He managed a budget of $2.7 million and developed a community building approach that has been widely adopted throughout the rural communities in the area served by the Ford Institute.

Prior to his work at the Ford Family Foundation, Barros spent 16 years at the Jacobs Family Foundation and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation in San Diego. During his tenure they developed Market Creek Plaza, a commercial and cultural center focused on the resident ownership of neighborhood change. Roque led the efforts in helping the community create the change they wanted to see in their community which included the first-ever Community Development Initial Public Offering.

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About Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation
Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation (IVWF) was created to help address a critical health funding gap in Imperial County, whose population suffers from shockingly poor health exacerbated by environmental problems despite the county’s importance to our nation’s food supply and clean energy goals. The new foundation was created specifically to tackle the county’s health inequities.

In 2019, recognizing a need for more local funding to support promising health initiatives, a group of Imperial Valley civic leaders joined forces to create the Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation (IVWF). IVWF is a tax-exempt public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code formed to advance the health and wellness of vulnerable populations in Imperial County. The San Diego-based Alliance Healthcare Foundation, nationally recognized for its innovative health and wellness initiatives, has offered a $7.5 million matching grant to endow IVWF and has provided other direct funding to support start-up operations and initial grant making. Wholly independent from Alliance Healthcare Foundation and locally governed by its own volunteer board of trustees, the new Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation is raising an additional $17.5 million through a national capital campaign to create a $25 million endowment that will provide more than $1 million to fund local programs and activities in perpetuity. In 2021, IVWF hired its first executive director, Roque Barros. Visit www.ivwf.org.




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