Rochelle Witharana is chief financial officer for The California Wellness Foundation and has served in that role since 2019. She was previously the foundation’s controller. With approximately $1 billion in assets, Cal Wellness awards more than $45 million annually in grants and program related investments that promote health equity, justice and advocacy for communities and individuals whose lives and wellness are too often determined by their race, income, immigration status or where they live.
Before joining Cal Wellness in May 2015, she was accounting manager for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and previously was controller for the Arizona State Retirement System. She began her career with Deloitte & Touche and has served as a controller, a CFO and a consultant for businesses in California and Arizona.
Rochelle possesses a strong interest in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the philanthropic sector. Under her leadership, Cal Wellness has significantly increased the percentage of its corpus that is invested with diverse managers, and she has implemented policies requiring demonstrated commitment to DEI principles in deciding with whom the foundation invests. Alongside the foundation’s investment committee, Rochelle spearheaded the foundation’s effort to purposefully align its investment strategies with the foundation’s mission and values around health equity, while maintaining or improving investment performance. She has also overseen the development and implementation of the foundation’s program related investment strategy.
A native of Sri Lanka, Rochelle emigrated to the United States with her parents in 1973, settling in Los Angeles. She identifies as Southeast Asian. Rochelle is a Certified Public Accountant. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from Cal State, Northridge.
She has an extensive history of voluntarism, particularly with organizations that assist survivors of domestic violence. She serves on the boards of Peace Over Violence and served on the board of Asian Pacific Women’s Center. She also serves on the advisory board for the Clarendon Foundation, an organization that supports orphanages and disadvantaged individuals in Sri Lanka. While living in Arizona, Rochelle volunteered at Paz De Cristo for 20 years preparing and serving meals to homeless and provided volunteer financial services to nonprofits. Rochelle has supported the Asian American community in Los Angeles through service on the board of Asian Pacific Womens Center and through attendance at events and financial support for Center for Pacific Asian Families.
Over the past several years she has directed grants through her discretionary Cal Wellness grant making budget to Center for Pacific Asian Families and the Asian Pacific Community Fund (APCF). Her work with the APCF led to connection with Cal Wellness programs team, resulting in a large grant from the foundation to support capacity building of API nonprofits. Rochelle has supported local AAPIP chapter events.