40 Under 40

Priscilla Valencia

MLK Community Health Foundation
Los Angeles, CA

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

  • With only a few months to prepare, Priscilla stepped into a lead role for MLK Community Health Foundation's largest campaign, MLKCH Gives. From 2018 to 2020, MLKCH Gives saw a 74% revenue increase, plus an astounding 100% participation rate from emergency department doctors—the largest physician group at MLKCH.  
  • Priscilla took the MLK Dream Lunch and broke through the half a million fundraising mark, achieving $523,000—a 23% increase in revenue. She sold out a room of over 500 four months in advance of the event. 
  • In 2019 Priscilla took over management of MLK Community Health's Advocates program, a relatively new major gifts society. At only the six month mark in FY2021 Priscilla has already achieved a 15% increase in acquisition of new Advocates at the $1,000 and above level, including several at $5,000 and above, during a time of extreme economic downturn.

Q & A

1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?

I had just moved back to Los Angeles after completing my master’s degree in nonprofit administration at the University of San Francisco and learned about the work being done at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH). I had no experience in healthcare but I was intrigued by its model and leadership. It was an opportunity for me to learn and build something new. What made the transition into healthcare philanthropy easy was that it supported a community similar to the one I grew up in. That has always been important to me. I have had the privilege of working with many organizations whose missions align with my values––from affordable housing to food justice––and that was the case with MLKCH.

2. Why did you choose to make healthcare philanthropy your career?

I believe that healthcare is a human right. Philanthropy allows us to mobilize resources and provide high-quality care to a community such as South LA, which has some of the worst health disparities in the nation. It makes it possible to change the narrative in our patient’s care while having a greater impact on a community that has been historically underserved.

3. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.

I had already held a few mid-level positions in the nonprofit sector, but I wanted to take the next step in my career. I knew it was important to learn the business side, which is why I decided to pursue a master’s degree in nonprofit management at a business school. It was a big investment to make but I was committed to the sector and to furthering my professional growth.

4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?

I grew up helping my mom clean houses when summer camp wasn’t in session and during holidays. I did not particularly like it but it taught me how to behave in spaces that were not necessarily meant for me. I learned how to interact with people from different backgrounds, which continues to be relevant to this day.

5. What are your future aspirations?

To continue working with organizations that value diversity in thinking, in their people, and in learning. I want to continue building, improving, and scaling programs that have an impact on people’s lives. This year has brought a lot of issues to the surface––structural racism and inadequate investments in public health amidst a global pandemic. I’m eager to see how this moment will influence our sector––how we will process and work to get somewhere far better than where we are now.
Find Priscilla on LinkedIn. 

Fun Fact:

I love a good adrenaline rush––skydiving is the most thrilling thing I have ever done.