LOS ANGELES—Gov. Jerry Brown joined local visionary Wallis Annenberg at a Beverly Wilshire Hotel gala dinner Jan. 29 to present the AJC Los Angeles’ (American Jewish Committee) Ira E. Yellin Community Leadership Award to philanthropist and technology entrepreneur David Bohnett, who was selected for his outstanding work as an advocate for human rights and a higher quality of life for all Angelenos.
Bohnett is an internet pioneer who co-founded the social networking site GeoCities in 1994. Widely considered the precursor to Facebook, GeoCities helped connect people and build communities throughout the world. Bohnett now heads the venture capital firm, Baroda Ventures, which invests in early stage technology start-ups that solve real-world problems, as well as his philanthropic organization, the David Bohnett Foundation.
Bohnett’s mission of improving society through social activism has resulted in an investment of over $50 million to support the work of a range of innovative institutions and causes including those integral to the AJC’s advocacy goals such as marriage equality, voting rights, and gun safety efforts. Bohnett continues his outreach efforts as the New Year begins.
“I am grateful to the American Jewish Committee for this special award named in honor of a remarkable man,” Bohnett said. “I look forward to working with Governor Brown and the AJC as well as my friends and colleagues in the philanthropic community, especially Ms. Annenberg and Mr. and Mrs. Broad, to promote social justice for all our citizens. For me, social justice isn’t just a phrase; it’s a moral imperative, and it means prioritizing investment in underserved communities. Working together, we can continue to make meaningful contributions toward a more inclusive and dynamic cultural sector, a safer and healthier community, and a fairer, more democratic world.”
Since 1999, the Bohnett Foundation has provided funding and technology support to hundreds of organizations including the Fund for Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Los Angeles Philharmonic; Venice Family Clinic; graduate school leadership programs at the University of Michigan, UCLA, NYU and Harvard; and numerous groups supporting research and public policies to reduce the toll of firearm violence. In addition to his philanthropic work with the Foundation, Bohnett serves as a Vice Chairman and past Chair of the Board of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, as well as trustee of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, amfAR, Foundation for AIDS Research and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
“Throughout his distinguished career, David Bohnett has fought tirelessly for the advancement of human rights in Los Angeles and around the nation,” said AJC Los Angeles Regional Director, Rabbi Mark Diamond. “His groundbreaking advocacy for social change has positively impacted so many people from all walks of life.”
Named in memory of Ira E. Yellin, attorney, developer and activist, the AJC’s Community Leadership Award salutes the accomplishments of Los Angeles' outstanding leaders from all walks of life—civic, community, business and political—who have made Los Angeles a better place for all people to live. Jessica Yellin, daughter of the late Ira Yellin, said, “Dad believed in standing up for your beliefs even when they're unpopular and working to find common ground where there was mistrust. He saw these values as the mission of the AJC, one reason he was at his happiest working with the organization.”
“David’s passion for social justice and innovative communal endeavors reflect the highest ideals of AJC’s mission of advancing civil and human rights for all,” AJC Los Angeles President Clifford P. Goldstein said. “AJC Los Angeles is especially proud to honor David Bohnett, a true giant in the philanthropic world.”
American Jewish Committee is the global advocate for the well-being of the Jewish people and for the advancement of democratic values for all. For more than 100 years, AJC has sought to advance the peace and security of the Jewish people around the world. Through high-level diplomacy, strong legislative advocacy, and effective interreligious and interethnic coalitions, AJC has made a significant impact on issues critical to the Jewish people. With key relationships at the regional, national, and international levels — from diplomats, to global decision-makers and community leaders — AJC is the preeminent global Jewish advocate.