ABOUT THE AILEEN GETTY FOUNDATION

Dear Friends,

We’ve spent the past few weeks in deep reflection. Following the death of George Floyd, we know that it’s not enough to respond to this moment without understanding the centuries of pain and oppression that have come before. While we can now easily capture on video horrific violence against the black community, we know that deep-rooted inequality has long been designed into American society. 

Certainly the most visible violence against the black community is reflected in the brutality of our police forces and penal system. That violence and disregard for human life also exposes a less visible, insidious violence regularly perpetrated on the black community. This more nuanced systemic violence has enabled many of us to look away and passively reinforce the structural racism that has become so routinized that we haven’t been forced to recognize its true nature. We can no longer look away.

For many of us who have considered ourselves to be part of the solution, we must face the truth that in our positions of comfortable privilege, we have often played a role in those systems of oppression, whether consciously or not. 

Where do we go from here? We know that actions must include but go beyond reform of our police forces to address the roots of inequality. 

This moment is an opportunity to write a new history for this country, one that is kinder, gentler, and more equitable. We must make space for new bold ideas. We must re-evaluate the way we allocate our resources, acknowledging that prioritizing police forces and jails while skimping on education, health care, and social services perpetuates a violent and disconnected society. 

Racial injustice spills over into all areas of our lives — education, healthcare, economics, and our Foundation’s main focus area, the environment. We see the violence of racism mirrored in the injustice against our planet. It is the same brazen self-interest and disregard for life that has enabled us to allow such oppression and domination. We have been part of a system that has promoted growth at all cost, pulling fossil fuels out of the ground when we know that they are killing us. 

While it is convenient to see these issues as siloed, in reality they are inextricably linked. We know that the communities that are most impacted by police brutality are the same communities that are most vulnerable to the climate crisis. And that black Americans disproportionately bear the burden of toxic air pollution and the associated heath conditions.

As Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, racial injustice” is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws—racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. It is exposing the evils that are rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced.”

There is no shortcut to radical reconstruction. Our broken systems call for a collective commitment to systemic healing. We must remain open to changing all that does not serve the whole of society. We must challenge our structures of governance. We must open our hearts and understand that it is time to get uncomfortable. We have never allowed ourselves to go this deep before, to acknowledge the level of change that is needed. 

When we hear the words “defund the police” for example, we must be open to what that could mean – a society that dismantles highly militarized police forces that have taken on increasingly inappropriate roles such as dealing with the homeless and those with mental illness. Instead let’s imagine a society that promotes community policing, driven by compassion and starting from the baseline assumption that all people deserve respect. 

Today we are seeing the power of protest. We see the righteous rage in the streets, and we know that is long overdue.  And we are starting to see change that we have never seen before. We must put fear of change and discomfort aside, challenge our previous convictions and reimagine our country as audaciously as possible.

At the Aileen Getty Foundation, we pledge to take an actively anti-racist approach in all of our climate work, prioritizing climate justice and projects led by black communities. 

We pledge to continually re-examine our role in supporting systems that perpetuate inequality.

We pledge to embrace the uncomfortable and acknowledge our tacit role in what has been a structure of oppression. 

We pledge to listen to the voices of those who have been disenfranchised. 

We pledge to uphold justice and dignity in every possible way, understanding that racial justice is planetary justice and that our interconnectedness could never allow for it to be otherwise. 

We pledge not to give up this focus. We know we can’t let this movement fade. This time, it must be different. 

We pledge to remain hopeful, for while this is a painful moment for our country, it is one of remarkable promise for progress. 

Let’s celebrate what has been gained in these past few weeks thanks to the voices in our streets. And let’s recognize that we must continue to go deeper, that the work is just beginning.

With love and hope for the future,

Aileen Getty
Founder & President

Aileen has been an active philanthropist throughout her adult life. With a focus on improving the quality of life of individuals and communities in the US and around the world, she has supported a number of causes including homelessness, HIV/AIDS research and treatment, the greening of urban spaces, the arts, community building in Africa, meditation in schools, and peacebuilding in the Middle East. Most recently she has dedicated the bulk of her time and philanthropic resources to addressing the climate emergency.

In 2005, Aileen also founded Gettlove, a nonprofit organization created to acknowledge, house and sustain housing for numerous homeless individuals who are part of the Los Angeles community. Aileen serves on several nonprofit boards: she is the Founder and President of Gettlove; the Founding Donor and Advisory Board Member of the Climate Emergency Fund; a Trustee for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research; an Ambassador to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation; and an Advisory Board Member of the YaLa Academy.

Sarah Ezzy
Vice President

Sarah has a deep background in philanthropy, previously serving as a Director at Global Philanthropy Group, a strategic philanthropic consulting firm. In that capacity, She advised dozens of high net worth individuals and corporations on their philanthropic strategies across a variety of issues including climate change, global poverty alleviation, global health, girls’ education, conflict resolution, education, childhood obesity, and sustainable agriculture.

She previously worked as a strategy consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and consulted to companies, governments and international institutions around the world including in Africa, Asia, the Balkans, and the Middle East. She serves on the board of the Climate Emergency Fund, Gettlove, and the Careyes Foundation. She also co-founded SADIQ, a non-profit organization created to support Iraqi refugees in the Middle East. Sarah holds a Master’s Degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor’s Degree from Dartmouth College.

Kindness

We seek to infuse all we do with love, acceptance, and compassion. We use kindness to inform all of our interactions with each other and the earth.

Collective Action

We are all interconnected. We find solutions to challenges when we focus on developing a sense of belonging in every one of us.

Sustainability

We focus on solutions that provide viable long-term solutions for people and the planet.