Who We Are
Sylia Obagi, President and founder of The Generative Group, is an innovator, coalition builder and hands-on manager of philanthropic-inspired change. After more than a decade of direct experience in philanthropy, including the launch of two important grantmaking foundations, she formed The Generative Group to help donors, private and family foundations, and social-purpose organizations maintain a deep commitment to their core values as they invest in progressive social change, and generate impact with their giving. Sylia has first-hand knowledge, real world experiences, and tools to guide clients through various stages of evolution. She is a reputable, non-traditional thinker ready to help clients challenge themselves for progressive social change. Sylia’s programmatic, governance, and operational expertise can help clients identify philanthropic strategies, as well as design the road maps for successful implementation.
Most recently, Sylia led the development of an important new charitable funder in Los Angeles as the first President & CEO of the Roy & Patricia Disney Family Foundation, investing more than $12.5M dollars to over 70 cutting-edge organizations on the frontlines of social, economic, and environmental justice.
Prior to Disney, she served as the second-most-senior executive at the Annenberg Foundation for 8 years. Her role as a “builder” included establishing the Foundation’s Los Angeles headquarters and growing staff from 13 to 90 people to support the organization’s programs, direct charitable activities, and operations. She played a lead role in creating and managing the Annenberg Space for Photography, one of LA’s newest cultural centers, as well as launching LA n Sync, a cross-sector collaborative that has brought more than $300M in new federal, state, and philanthropic investment to the Los Angeles region. She led the creation of Annenberg Alchemy, a capacity-building program that has served more than 2,000 nonprofit leaders and boards. In addition, she was the principal architect of the foundation’s $30M/year VISION+ responsive grantmaking program.
Having worked on the frontlines of The Community College Foundation, a statewide social service agency delivering education and workforce development services to over 15,000 people annually, she understands the vital importance of nonprofit effectiveness and financial sustainability for nonprofits.
Sylia is a governance and executive coach, accredited by leading organizations including BoardSource, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC), and the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She blends her deep expertise in governance with executive coaching to help leaders advance their governance and leadership priorities, and generate ongoing solutions in a rapidly changing world.
She also builds the strength of the sector as a speaker at various conferences, and as a volunteer by serving on the Program Committee of Exponent Philanthropy, the Family Advisory Council of Southern California Grantmakers, and the regional board of Opportunity Fund. She previously served on the board of Southern California Grantmakers and Advisors in Philanthropy.
With an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, 5 years as a CPA at Arthur Anderson, she has the financial and leadership training to create executable philanthropic strategy, and knows how to work with people to build partnerships and alliances that turn strategy into lasting impact.