Who We Are

The Friends of the San Francisco Department of Public Health was founded on May 5, 1988 by Dr. David Werdegar, DPH Director aided by other key community leaders. Realizing that the city budget had no discretionary funds for training, education, special projects and small programs, the Friend’s Founding Board determined that Friends would raise funds to support and enhance Department activities and provide an educational program to inform the people of San Francisco about public health needs.

The Board successfully took on several major fundraising events. Monies raised were dispersed to help the homeless at the Tom Waddell Health Clinic and the Mary Martin Trauma Center at San Francisco General Hospital. In July 1993, the Friends of San Francisco Public Health changed its name to the San Francisco Public Health Foundation, (SFPHF). In line with its changing purpose, The Foundation immediately began receiving donations, grants and corporate gifts on behalf of various programs and activities within the Department of Public Health.

To date over 30 million dollars have been received and managed by the SFPHF. The monies have been used to provide immunizations for children and adults, medical services for underserved populations, tools for child care providers and staff development when public budgets have been slashed. The amount of money raised and disbursed is limited only by the skill, creativity and energy of the people developing and promoting innovative public health programs.

San Francisco Public Health Foundation
375 Laguna Honda Blvd. B303
San Francisco, CA 94116

Voice: 415-504-6738
Fax: 415-520-0471


Robyn Frye, President
Robyn Frye is a Senior Manager in the Privacy, Ethics and Compliance department at Workday. In this role, Robyn ensures the requirements and obligations associated with the security and privacy of Workday’s customer data are followed.  Workday is proud to be a long standing supporter of San Francisco Public Health Foundation projects, most notably Project Homeless Connect.  Prior to her position at Workday, Robyn spent over a decade in the Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP.  She had the opportunity to work in multiple industries, during her last seven years with Ernst & Young she focused primarily on regulatory compliance and process improvement projects within the healthcare industry. In 2010 Robyn was selected as one of seven Ernst & Young professionals to serve as a EY Corporate Responsibility Fellow in Santiago, Chile. Robyn received her B.S. from California Polytechnic State University. She became a member of the Board in 2013 and was elected as President in 2014.

Rachel Golick Fernandez, Vice President
Rachel Fernandez is a Corporate Counsel in the Healthcare Law Group at Genentech, Inc., where she advises business partners across the organization on legal issues in the managed care space. Prior to joining Genentech, Rachel served as the lead attorney at Counsyl, Inc., a high growth technology company providing genetic testing and counseling services. She joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2012 and became Vice President in 2013.

Tim McDowell, Treasurer
Tim McDowell is currently the Managing Partner at Cypress Point Capital Management, LLC. He has been a financial analyst and advisor for more than 15 years and brings this expertise to the SFPHF Board. He received his Bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina and his MBA from Harvard Business School. He joined the Board of Directors of SFPHF in 2013 and became Treasurer in December 2013.


Colleen Chawla, Secretary
Colleen Chawla is Deputy Director of Health and Director of Policy and Planning for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Ms. Chawla is responsible for coordination of City-wide and Department-wide efforts to plan for the health and health care in San Francisco, as well as for health policy analysis and development. Ms. Chawla first entered the world of public health as a volunteer for the Southern California HIV/AIDS hotline in 1992. She has worked in health care ever since in local government, non-profit and corporate settings. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Southern California and her Master in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. Ms. Chawla was appointed as an ex-officio member of the Board in 2011 and served as Secretary from 2012 to 2014 and was elected again in June 2015.

Penny Eardley, Executive Director
Joining the Foundation as Executive Director in 2010, Penny Eardley brings 30 years of experience in non-profit leadership with a record of successful team management, fiscal responsibility, fund development and strategic planning. Working in and with safety net clinics, residential treatment programs, public radio and public affairs, education programs for youth and other human service groups Penny has broad experience with community agencies. She has won several awards, including the designation as outstanding Santa Barbara County Public Health Professional in 2001. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Michigan State University and has completed subsequent training in financial management, grant writing, personnel management, organizational development and life coaching.


Elizabeth Ferber

Elizabeth Ferber is a Public Affairs Manager for the Kaiser Permanente Greater San Francisco Area. Prior to her current role, Elizabeth was the Community & Government Relations Manager and  a Sr. Public Affairs Representative within the Department of Public Affairs . Originally from the New York Metropolitan Area, Elizabeth moved to the Bay Area from Sydney, Australia in 2004. Elizabeth holds a Master of Public Health degree from Walden University and she is a graduate of both Columbia and New York Universities, where she was awarded her BA in English Literature and MA in Education respectively. Ferber spent over two decades as a journalist covering public policy, governmental, and environmental matters, as well as performing the role of head teacher at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn, NY. Elizabeth is an award-winning writer and editor, with over 10 published books to her credit and dozens of articles in such publications as The New York Times, The San Francisco Review of Books, and New York Magazine. Ms. Ferber joined the Board in 2014.

Sonia Melara is the Executive Director of Rally Family Visitation Services of Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. She serves on the part-time faculty of San Francisco State University’s School of Social Work. Ms. Melara was appointed to the San Francisco Health Commission in 2008 and is the chair of the Laguna Honda Hospital Joint Conference Committee. She was appointed by the President of the Health Commission as an ex-officio member of the SFPHF Board in 2011.


Amanda Schmutzler is the Director of Access Solutions for Genentech, Inc. Ms. Schmutzler has had more than 10 years experience in project management and customer support for a variety of companies. She earned her BA at Wellesley College and her MPH at the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2011.

Gayle Uchida is a transition strategist for New World Transitions, a consultancy that extends help in guiding seniors and their families through the often overwhelming course of transition. Gayle has extensive experience within the non profit community as well as the technology sector having held management positions within corporations such as Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard, Informix.
Prior to founding New World Transitions, Gayle managed a start up non profit focused on support services and programs for older adults who wish to age in place. She has also developed and implemented revenue generating programs for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and cultivated strategic collaborations for various Bay Area non profits that resulted in increased awareness of their mission and expanded their outreach. She has previously held board positions with Girls Inc. and Women in Communications International. Gayle received a BA in Political Science from the University of Hawaii as well as a teaching credential from San Francisco State University. She joined the SFPHF Board in 2012.