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Toxic Inequality: Toward Greater Equity & Mobility

  • Sobrato Center for Nonprofits - Redwood Shores - Shoreway Conference Room 350 Twin Dolphin Drive Redwood City, CA, 94065 United States (map)


Join Tom Shapiro and special guests, Eric McDonnell of the United Way Bay Area and Avani Patel of the Peery Foundation for a very special Community Forum. Tom will present his latest book, Toxic Equality - How America's Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, & Threatens Our Future. 
Rick Williams, CEO of Sobrato Family Foundation, will then engage us in conversation with local leaders who work to create greater equity in our region. Lunch and networking will follow. Sign up today!



Dr. Thomas Shapiro is Director, Institute on Assets and Social Policy and the Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Professor Shapiro's primary interest is in racial inequality and public policy. He is a leader in the asset field with a particular focus on closing the racial wealth gap. He co-authored a groundbreaking study, The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide. The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality, 2004 was widely reviewed. With Dr. Melvin Oliver, he wrote the award-winning Black Wealth/White Wealth, which received the 1997 Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award from the American Sociological Association. In 2011 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the wealth gap in South Africa. Dr. Shapiro’s widely anticipated new book Toxic Inequality: How America’s Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, & Threatens Our Future was recently released March 2017.


Eric McDonnell is a committed and passionate advocate for children, families and communities. As Chief Operating Officer, Eric provides strategic, transformational and operational leadership to achieve our goals. He sets priorities and delivers on the organization’s mission. Eric drives United Way Bay Area’s efforts to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her academic potential, and families achieve economic self-sufficiency, while making Bay Area neighborhoods safer, stronger places to live. “I grew up in poverty, living in public housing, facing the everyday challenges of making ends meet. Like a debilitating illness, poverty can rob an individual, a family, and a community of material, mental and emotional hope. So, United Way’s campaign to end poverty is important to me personally, because I know the struggle. Professionally, I am blessed to be in a position to give back and help break the cycle of poverty that exists in our community.” Prior to joining United Way Bay Area, Eric served as executive director of the Audrey L. Smith Developmental Center in San Francisco, a childcare and social services provider for more than 250 families. His decade of work at the center lent itself to the issues he now oversees for United Way Bay Area. Eric holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco. 


Avani Patel joined the Peery Foundation as Local Portfolio Director in November of 2013 to strengthen the foundation’s contribution to closing the opportunity gap for youth in East Palo Alto. Her career in education started through Teach for America as a teacher in East Palo Alto. She has worked in both traditional and charter school systems and has served as a school site and district administrator in the Ravenswood City School District, the public school district in East Palo Alto. She graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Sociology and African & African American studies. In addition, she pursued her Masters in Education and received her doctorate in Educational Leadership.

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Rick Williams is Chief Executive Officer of the Sobrato Family Foundation (SFF), one of Silicon Valley’s largest philanthropic organizations. Prior to joining SFF, Mr. Williams founded and was President of Realize Consulting Group, a management consultant firm for philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. Mr. Williams also served at the Director of the Asset Funders Network, USA, a national community of foundations and grantmakers helping low-income individuals build and protect financial assets, and was National Programs Director at the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation where he oversaw grantmaking in the areas of homelessness, substance abuse, foster youth, after-school services, and poverty prevention. Mr. Williams is on the Board of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, Northern California Grantmakers, Silicon Valley Children’s Fund and Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY).