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PEAK Grantmaking

An Unexpected Journey

Dolores Estrada's headshot
I joined The California Endowment in 1999 as a program assistant, not even knowing what it meant to have a career in philanthropy. The concept of giving money away for a living in and of itself was strange to me. In my 19 years at that organization, I would hold five different titles and each one allowed me to engage with and learn from a variety of staff across the organization and in the community. As a program staffer, I learned that I loved the process-intensive focus in the work. Over time, this ability to navigate the process and programmatic aspects of grantmaking made me the perfect liaison to our grants administration department. The experiences and the people were so positive, I would eventually transition to the grants department until my departure in 2018. Looking back, it might at first seem like a bit of a leap going from studying