Local with Lisa | Scholarship Soiree

Opening doors through education. That is the goal of the W. Ray Johnson Foundation. I emceed their recent event to raise funds and awareness so that schools can help overlooked students achieve their educational goals.

Insights, stories and interviews about homeownership and living in the East Bay
From a Piedmont native, Emmy award-winning television journalist-turned-home matchmaker, part-time radio anchor, UCLA graduate, wife and mother of 3.


The W. Ray Johnson Foundation was started in 2017 as a way for 3 siblings to honor their late father’s legacy, who was dedicated to helping people in the community and served as a city manager for Los Angeles and Fresno.

“If talent is evenly dispersed, opportunity is not,” said Stacee Johnson-Williams, CEO of the W. Ray Johnson Foundation.  “Sometimes opportunity comes and you don’t have the means.  What we do is provide means so we can build a bridge between talent and opportunity.” 

Stacee also mentioned the foundation supports the most at risk students in the least funded programs. They provide scholarships, internships, and endowments.  “Here we are 6 years later and we have 10 partner schools across 3 states, we have 6 in CA 3 in Texas and 1 in Georgia.”


3 Bay Area schools were the focus of this Scholarship Soiree on the 61st Floor of the SalesForce Tower in SF.  I was honored to emcee the event that highlighted the programs and students at Diablo Valley CollegeSF State and Dr. TJ Owens Early Education Academy in Gilroy.  


Peter Zaballos shares the same mission as the W. Ray Johnson Foundation.  He started the Diamante Scholars, a program at DVC that helps high school seniors who have been overlooked. The program gives them lifelong career skills that can get them through college and onto a successful career path.  

“I never had good grades ever and I was told in middle school and high school I’d never go to college or find success anywhere,” Peter told me.  “Through DVC I was a student there and I ended up transferring to Berkeley and was involved in two pivotal start ups.  I was a Venture Capitalist for 7 years and helped 4 companies go public and no one asked me what my grades were or where I went to college.”  

I asked when he heard about the W. Ray Johnson Foundation, what did he think about their mission and what they were trying to accomplish? “We were in similar universes separated at birth with similar objectives, ” he said.  “I’m  happy and privileged to be a part of their giving and to be associated with them, we are trying to do the same thing together.”

Opening doors through education. That is the goal of the W. Ray Johnson Foundation and this event raised money and awareness of their mission to continue to help empower schools with resources and students to achieve their educational goals.


Who should I interview next for Local with Lisa? If you have a suggestion I’d like to hear it! Or if you’d like to talk about real estate and want to know your home’s current market value, I’m happy to provide you a complimentary assessment. Get in touch!

For more Local with Lisa, click here.

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