The End of an Era: Leadership Transition at GCIR

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Dear Colleagues:
As you know from her announcement earlier this week, GCIR President Daranee Petsod has chosen to step down from her position at the end of 2020. We wish her the very best as she embarks on the next chapter of her life in her native Thailand!
The entire GCIR board of directors is sad to lose such a tireless, fearless, and visionary leader, but we are profoundly grateful for her decades of leadership and her dedication to advancing equity and justice for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
As we prepare for this transition, we want to uplift Daranee’s leadership and the foundational role she has played in making GCIR what it is today. When she joined the organization part-time 21 years ago, GCIR had only a handful of members, and she was the only paid staff person. Under her leadership, GCIR has grown to a membership of 130 institutions; a talented and passionate staff of 12; and a core annual budget of $2.5 million.
While never one to seek the spotlight, Daranee commands respect from philanthropic and field leaders alike and has played an outsized role in transforming the sector. More funders than ever before are supporting immigration-related issues that were once thought to be too political, too controversial, or even irrelevant. GCIR now works with funders in dozens of states across the country, from traditional immigrant gateways such as California, New York, and Texas to newer immigrant destinations like Colorado, Georgia, and Tennessee.
In the mid-2000s, Daranee led the creation of GCIR’s Immigrant Integration Toolkit, which provided philanthropy a groundbreaking framework for immigrant-related grantmaking and ultimately leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding over a decade. The California Immigrant Integration Initiative, launched in response to the toolkit’s recommendations, has demonstrated the power of philanthropic coordination by leading responses to a range of pressing issues and making substantial investments each year since its inception in 2007. Building on the success of this statewide table, GCIR has gone on to lead philanthropic responses to the 2010 census and 2020 census in the Golden State.
Under Daranee’s guidance, GCIR also created Delivering on the Dream and expanded it from a short-term response to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to a model network that has engaged over 150 funders and deployed more than $70 million to build and strengthen the immigrant service infrastructure in 19 states. And in her own backyard, Daranee co-founded the UndocuFund for Fire Relief in Sonoma County, a partnership with community-based nonprofits that disbursed over $6 million in grants to help 4,000+ undocumented immigrants and their families get back on their feet after the 2017 fires. Given these accomplishments and GCIR’s key role in organizing funder pushback to draconian federal policies, Inside Philanthropy named GCIR the Funders’ Affinity Group of the Year in 2017.
For more than two decades, Daranee has led GCIR with humility, grace, brilliance, selflessness, and—as those who know her can attest—an infectious sense of humor. She has developed lasting relationships and partnerships within philanthropy and the movement that will continue to benefit GCIR’s work in the years to come.
Recognizing that GCIR’s work is more essential than ever amid intensifying attacks on immigrants, refugees, and other communities, Daranee has been as thoughtful about the timing of her departure as she has been in expanding GCIR’s influence. She has given us a long transition runway, and she has cultivated a strong board and staff, built a financially sound organization, and laid the foundation for GCIR to increase its impact in the future.
The GCIR board of directors has developed a comprehensive leadership transition plan, and five directors serve on the leadership transition committee: Kalia AbiadeDimple AbichandaniEvan BacalaoAmanda Cloud, and Robby Rodriguez. Through this committee, the board will work in close partnership with staff to ensure that GCIR’s work maintains a high standard of excellence and continues uninterrupted over the next year. Characteristically, Daranee has offered to be available to support her successor as needed and desired, and we are confident that the transition will be a smooth one.
Early next year, we will launch a nationwide search for a new president, and you will hear from us again once the search officially commences. We will also share updates at key points in the transition and search process to keep you informed. We and our colleagues on the board are available to answer any questions you may have—please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.



James Gore and Efrain Escobedo
Co-Chairs, Board of Directors
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees


P.S. We hope you will join us at our upcoming biennial convening, Courage, Vision, Action, March 11-13, 2020 in Atlanta. We will celebrate Daranee’s leadership, reflect on GCIR’s 30-year history, and strategize together about how philanthropy can advance a just and equitable future for our country.

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