Congratulations to all of our 2021-22 RSF Women's Fund Grant Recipients! For a complete list, please see below.


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  • 26 Jan 2022 7:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Posted on January 24, 2022 by Megan Fletcher

    The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund is a collective giving group that awards grants annually to nonprofits meeting needs in specific focus areas. RSF Women’s Fund is a donor advised at Rancho Santa Fe Foundation and has granted more than $4.4 million since its inception in 2004. Building upon their long track record of successful philanthropy, RSF Women’s fund has launched a new initiative: The Above and Beyond Campaign. This campaign opens up their collective giving model to the Rancho Santa Fe community and beyond to interested individuals, including those that are not current RSFWF members. Donors to the campaign can give confidently knowing that 100% of their donation will be granted to San Diego nonprofits that qualify for funding after completing the RSFWF’s application process.

  • 09 Nov 2021 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We look into the history of RSF and what it's like today. We revisit The Village— the area's primary commercial district— which includes the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

    Author: Marcella Lee (Anchor/Reporter) CBS NEWS 8

    Published: 7:56 AM PST November 9, 2021

    Updated: 9:45 AM PST November 9, 2021

    News 8 video

    RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif — Rancho Santa Fe is one of the wealthiest areas in San Diego County. It’s been home to the rich and famous, including Bing Crosby, Janet Jackson, Bill Gates and Phil Mickelson.

    The white picket fences that lined the streets three decades ago are still very much part of the charm that welcomes you into Rancho Santa Fe today.

    "When you drive through the curvy roads getting into Rancho Santa Fe,  and it's like relaxing. It's like you really don't know where you are anymore. You don't realize that you're in Southern California, San Diego,” said Kathy Reese, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

    Instead of limousines, these days you'll see luxury SUVs and Teslas are a common sight.

    In The Village, the heart of Rancho Santa Fe, memories live on in historic buildings. Gayle Gillies Travel, which we saw in the commercial district in a News 8 story three decades ago, is long gone, but Gayle’s daughter-in-law still works in the exact same office space. 

    I'm in real estate and we used to work around the corner, and when I found out we were going to move into my mom-in-law's office, it was amazing,” said Gillian Gillies, adding, “You can still feel her spirit or energy in here, which is a lovely thing.“

    There's a lot that has stood the test of time in this exclusive community, often referred to as simply, “The Ranch."

    Nestled in lush, rolling hills, the landscape and the lifestyle haven't changed all that much since we featured this slice of San Diego’s North County in 1987. Back then, residents described Rancho Santa Fe as "heaven on earth." Today, people feel the same way.

    “We’re the little gem, away from all the hustle and bustle of San Diego,” said Reese. 

    Rancho Santa Fe was designated as a state historical landmark in 1989. The community was once called Rancho San Dieguito, a Mexican land grant in 1841. In 1906, the Santa Fe Railway purchased the land grant, and in the early 1920s a planned community with a commercial downtown district, called The Village, was developed.

    The Spanish colonial-style buildings in The Village and the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, were designed in 1923 by Lilian Rice, one of California’s first women architects. A bronze statue of Rice was just unveiled this month in The Village green.

    "Almost 100 years later, it is still flourishing; the hotel is flourishing, The Village is flourishing,” said Reese, who described the experience at the historic hotel as a timeless retreat. 

    “We are the heart of the community. Everybody knows each other. The Inn is kind of like the central meeting place for all the local family friends,” Reese explained.

    Only 2,500 people live in Rancho Santa Fe. In fact, there are less than 900 households in the unincorporated area of San Diego County. The sprawling, private estates have always made it a desirable and expensive place to call home.

    In 1987, our News 8 report said that a recent study showed Rancho Santa Fe to be the 8th wealthiest suburb in the nation, with an average selling price of $2,000,000.

    It's dropped a little since those days; 92067 is now the 13th most expensive zip code, according to Forbes, with a median selling price of more than $4,000,000.

    The most expensive property currently for sale in Rancho Santa Fe is a 77-acre estate, complete with a horse ranch, listed in October 2021 for $98.5 million.

    “The market right now in Rancho is crazy as it is everywhere else. The inventory is an all-time low,” said Gillies. "Wealthy buyers are paying top dollar for luxury living, prioritizing quality of life."

    “You've got more options now. You can work from home... Families are all gathering in the same home but they don't want to be on top of each other. And the square footage of the houses in Rancho Santa Fe make that work well,” Gillies said.

    In our 1987 story, one resident said many people have a view of Rancho Santa Fe as being a bunch of elitists. For decades, people who have lived there have worked to break that stigma.

    "Honestly, the people in Rancho Santa Fe are very down to earth. I think you'll find them really interesting because they come from all walks of life. And they've done well,” said Gillies. 

    With that success, comes a spirit of giving among people in the community. Gillies' mother-in-law Gayle, who owned Gayle Gillies Travel, founded the Rancho Santa Fe Women's Fund in 2004 to give back. 

    “The Women’s Fund was founded as a way for members to join together in meaningful and engaging ways and to give back to the greater San Diego community," said Gayle, as quoted on the charity's website. Though she passed away in 2019, she left a lasting legacy.

    The Rancho Santa Fe Women's Fund is one of several non-profits that partners with the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation to meet the needs of people across San Diego County.

    "In the last year, we've given out over $10 million, much of it in the area of COVID relief, helping young military families, and many other causes,” said Chris Sichel, President and CEO of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, which has granted more than $100 million dollars into the community. 

    RSFF is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. 

    "I think all of us want to have impact. We want to make other lives better. And I think to whom much is given much as expected, and this community really, really embraces that, and the generosity here is unequaled,” said Sichel. 

    Most of us will never be able to live in "The Ranch," but you can dine at a restaurant in The Village, enjoy a staycation at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, or splurge at the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, which was just ranked the number four resort in the country by Travel + Leisure Magazine

    Rooms during this time of the year start at about $1,000 per night, and rates get much more expensive during the holidays and summer months when there’s higher demand.

    You can also enjoy a historical walking tour of Rancho Santa Fe and learn more information about its roots and architectural design of its building by visiting the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society.

  • 27 Jun 2021 11:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Mara Buchholz and Sharon Bauce at a recent RSF Women's Fund gathering.

    Mara Buchholz and Sharon Bauce at a recent RSF Women’s Fund gathering. (Courtesy of RSF Women’s Fund)

    The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund gathered at a member’s home on June 9 to celebrate a successful year. Incoming chairwoman Susan Hoehn welcomed the membership and thanked outgoing chair Candise Holmlund for her leadership.

    “The women of the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund are delighted to be able to meet and mingle again in person,” said Hoehn in a news release. “We enjoyed gathering at the stunning home of Sabrina Applegate to celebrate another amazing year of grant giving.

    Rosemarie Rohatgi, Cheryl Slamans, Jillian Spector, and Adrienne Hoehn Sherman.

    Rosemarie Rohatgi, Cheryl Slamans, Jillian Spector, and Adrienne Hoehn Sherman.(Courtesy of RSF Women’s Fund)

    “The women’s fund gave away over $300,000 this year to worthy institutions in the San Diego region who had applied for funds to enhance their organization, and who had gone through the organization’s rigorous grant selection process. The 10 recipients this year range from childcare for our armed services at Camp Pendleton to domestic violence shelters.

    “We are proud to be a part of the San Diego community and enhance individuals’ lives through our grants,” Hoehn said.

    The RSF Women’s Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, was established in 2004 as a way for members to join together and give back. The fund is currently welcoming potential new members. For more information, visit or contact the membership chair at

    Carlie Berke, Joanne Marks and Connie Pittard

    Carlie Berke, Joanne Marks and Connie Pittard (Courtesy of RSF Women’s Fund)

    Maureen McMahon, Paula Bates, Shari Cirkus and Kathy Yash

    Maureen McMahon, Paula Bates, Shari Cirkus and Kathy Yash (Courtesy of RSF Women’s Fund)

  • 14 Jun 2021 6:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Pickleball celebration for Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund held at RSF Tennis Club

    Birgitte Bradshaw (Tennis Club staff), Diane Culp, Elizabeth Macleod, Kathy Stumm

    The RSF Women’s Fund held a pickleball event May 20 at the RSF Tennis Club to celebrate a year ending in donations of over $300,000 to grants for women, children and military families. The event was organized by RSF Women’s Fund member Courtney LeBeau, who is also a RSF Tennis                                                                             Club board member.

    Photos by Jon Clark

    Marina Pastor, Diana ClarkJulie Klaus, Francie Free, Marina Pastor, Diana Clark

  • 24 May 2021 9:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Volunteer Chair Ellie Cunningham, grantee Operation Hope representatives Cindy Taylor and Nicole Ketcher. Seated: Member-at-Large Kathy Yash, Jennifer Handy of grantee Interfaith Community Services

    MAY 24, 2021 10:31 AM PT

    The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund Grant Celebration took place May 11 at a luncheon held at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. This year the RSF Women’s Fund presented more than $300,000 in grants to 10 local charities.

    The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund (RSFWF), which was started in 2004, captures the generous spirit of women who live in the Rancho Santa Fe area of the county. Every member contributes $2,300 to the fund each year, and all the money is donated every year to select recipients. RSFWF has granted more than $4.4 million over its 17 years. The vetting process of candidate organizations is rigorous, with members of RSFWF spending seven months pouring over the grant requests to see which are the most worthy. This year the two focus areas for grants are “Education and Economic Development” and “Children and Youth.”

    Since COVID started many organizations have had more demand for their services, less funding and the challenges of meeting needs virtually. The grants they receive are significant resources for their continued service in the community. For more information, visit

    Women's Fund Board Chair -Candise Holmlund, outgoing & Susan Hoehn, incoming

    Sharon Considine. Kimberly Laws of grantee Girls on the Run, Michelle Pius of grantee Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, Sue Major, Anna Maria Maybury of grantee Girls on the Run. Seated: Caitlyn McTaggert of grantee Girls on the Run, McCall Pinnell, Barbara Freundt

    Women's Fund members and 2021 Grantees

    Grants Co-Chairs Mara Buchholz and Nikki Ream, Advisory Chair Candise Holmlund, Incoming Advisory Chair Susan Hoehn2021 Grant Chairs - Mara Buchholz & Nikki Carmody-Ream; Candise Holmlund & Susan Hoehn

  • 31 Mar 2021 5:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    APRIL 15, 2021 3:23 PM PT

    Marian Benassi and Ellie Cunningham

    In the spirit of its mission to collectively support the community, members of the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund recently gathered to assemble Easter baskets for children from three local nonprofit organizations: Ronald McDonald House, San Diego Rescue Mission, and Carol’s House supported by the Community Resource Center in Encinitas.

    “I can only imagine the stress that women and children are under while living in a shelter. If I can help alleviate a bit of stress and put a smile on a child’s face with an Easter basket, then I’m very happy to help. We all need to support each other as much as possible,” remarked member Ellie Cunningham who has been the volunteer coordinator for the RSF Women’s Fund for the last several years. As such, she coordinates events in which the members can tangibly give to the community in more personal ways than the annual grant process allows.

    Susan Hoehn

    This outdoor, socially-distanced event was hosted by member Susan Hoehn. “The joy was palatable as members greeted each other after such a long hibernation during COVID. Excited to do what we came there for, we eagerly assembled Easter baskets full of goodies for homeless or financially stressed families, some with hospitalized children. Being together and having fun while doing good for others is what the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund is all about,” said Hoehn. The RSF Women’s Fund was founded by Gayle Gillies-Mize in 2004 as a way for members to join together in meaningful and engaging ways and to give back to the greater San Diego community. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $4 million in grants to local nonprofits.

    Ellie Cunningham

    The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund is nearing the final stages of its current grant cycle, and looks forward to congratulating and presenting funds to the final selected organizations on May 11 at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club during its member meeting. For more information about RSFWF, visit its website ( or contact the current chair, Candise Holmlund at or the fund administrator, Korri Ball, at

  • 29 Jan 2021 3:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Anyone looking to prepare a chef-inspired dinner from their very own kitchen? If so, how does coq-au-vin paired with molten chocolate lava cake sound? On Feb. 11, the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund will host San Diego native chef Travis Swikard in a virtual Valentine’s Day-themed cooking class. Swikard most recently returned from New York City where he worked with Michelin-starred French chef Daniel Boulud for 10 years. Participants will get the opportunity to prepare a delicious meal while connecting with fellow members of the community.


    The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund is also creating other ways for members to remain connected. At the end of February, they are hosting a virtual all-member meeting where members will have the opportunity to sign up to participate in virtual site visit meetings for organizations currently requesting a grant from RSFWF. Even though these visits cannot be conducted in person as in years past, it’s important to the members of RSFWF that they continue to engage in their diligent grant process so that they can support deserving organizations in this time of great need.

    Guests are more than welcome to attend both of the events listed above. Please see their website ( for additional events as they become available.

  • 03 Dec 2020 3:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund members preparing care packages.The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund is finding new ways to support its community partners while staying safe and healthy.

    This year, several members wrote messages of hope to the women who will be staying in San Diego Rescue Mission’s Nueva Vida Haven emergency overnight shelter. In May, the RSF Women’s Fund donated $39,000 toward Nueva Vida Haven’s bathroom remodel, which created a more usable and updated facility for the women and children staying there.

    “Women in crisis need to know that they matter, that they are worthy, and that they are loved,” said volunteer coordinator Ellie Cunningham. “We need to support each other by planting seeds of hope through words of encouragement.”

    A second community-oriented volunteer opportunity supported another local organization, Just in Time for Foster Youth, which received a $34,000 grant in May. Dozens of Women’s Fund members donated personal care items, including shampoo, soap, and toothpaste, and fun items like gum, mints, and tea. There were enough donated items to fill 48 care packages.

    “One of the things I love about the women’s fund is that we have a continuing relationship with the organizations to whom we grant funds. It is joyous to know that we may have brought a smile to the foster youth going through a particularly difficult time on their own. Even a small gesture lets them know others care about them,” said Nikki Carmody Ream, grants co-chair care packages.

    The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund has granted over $4 million since founding in 2004, and provides many ways for members to make meaningful contributions to local nonprofits. The Fund has tentative plans to host its annual Bubbles and Blanca event in January, as well as a speaker meeting in February (hybrid or via zoom depending on restrictions at that time). If you are interested in learning more about the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund, go to their new website,


  • 12 Aug 2020 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Rescue Mission to reopen shelter for women, children

    After closing months ago, bathroom improvements were made and rooms rearranged for social distancing

    Donnie Dee, president and CEO of the Rescue Mission, stands in Nueva Vida Haven, the emergency shelter for women and children run by the San Diego Rescue Mission. It’s set to open by the weekend. 

     By Gary Warth


    Four months after fears of the coronavirus led to the San Diego Rescue Mission closing its nightly emergency shelter for women and children, the nonprofit is planning to reopen it this week with improvements and new safety steps to create social distancing.

    “Now we have to figure out the long play,” said Paul Armstrong, vice president of programs at the mission. “This isn’t going away. This isn’t going to be just a couple of months. This is the new normal.”

    Donnie Dee, president and CEO of the Rescue Mission, said he grew concerned about the safety of people at the shelter known as Nueva Vida Haven after a couple of women became ill and were taken to a hospital by ambulance.

    While they didn’t test positive for the coronavirus, the incidents were a wake-up call. The city had similar concerns about the bridge shelters it operated and responded by closing them down and moving hundreds of people into the San Diego Convention Center in April.

    The Rescue Mission allowed women and children to stay for 30 nights at the shelter, but each adult had to meet with a case worker to learn about programs that could help them overcome homelessness and other related issues. Any vacant beds also were available for newcomers each night

    At the time it closed March 31, the shelter was hosting 37 single women and five women with children. Single women were transferred to a shelter program Father Joe’s Villages was operating at the time in Golden Hall, and women with children later found shelter through the Salvation Army and Door of Hope.

    The Rescue Mission also closed its thrift stores and put about 200 people in its Mission Academy residential program in quarantine, restricting them from leaving the building.

    “We said the best place to be is here,” Dee said.

    Armstrong, who had been chief programs officer at the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, joined the Rescue Mission in May. As weeks passed, he and Dee were troubled by the empty beds in the emergency shelter.

    But there was a silver lining. Knowing they would someday reopen Nueva Vida Haven, the mission took advantage of the vacant shelter with a long-needed expansion of the bathrooms, which had only three showers. Women staying at the shelter routinely would miss out on a chance to shower, but were allowed to be first in line the next day.

    The expansion will provide enough showers for everybody each night. Dee said the work passed a fire inspection Friday, a final inspection was scheduled for Tuesday, and the shelter is expected to fully reopen by the weekend.

    A portion of the shelter already has been reopened. About four weeks ago, the mission repurposed two vacant rooms that had been part of its former transitional housing program. Eight beds were moved into each room as the first step in reopening Nueva Vida Haven, and the mission has worked with the county’s 2-1-1 referral line and San Diego Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Teams to bring in people.

    Beds inside the main room have been rearranged so people sleep feet-to-head, reducing the chance of the virus spreading, and a full row of bunk beds will remain empty to increase space.

    The 16 beds in the two other rooms will offset the loss of beds in the main room, Armstrong said. To reduce the number of people in the dining room, people from the shelter will be served dinner in two shifts.

    Armstrong said enrollment in Mission Academy declined from about 200 to 70 since they stopped taking in new students in March, but students are being accepted again and he expects the academy to be back to its original size soon.

  • 03 Aug 2020 10:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Bench honoring RSF Women’s Fund founder Gayle Gillies-Mize now installed in Village Park

    The name plate on the bench commemorating the life and legacy of RSF Women’s Fund founder Gayle Gillies-Mize.

    The name plate on the bench commemorating the life and legacy of RSF Women’s Fund founder Gayle Gillies-Mize.

    JULY 30, 2020--2:46 PM

    The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund recently announced that a bench commemorating the life and legacy of its founder, Gayle Gillies-Mize, is now installed in the very heart of the community she so humbly served for over 50 years. Gillies-Mize founded the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund in 2004 in an effort to engage women in collective philanthropy. Since that time, the RSF Women’s Fund has awarded over $4 million in grants to local and regional nonprofit organizations, and touched the lives of thousands.

    Next time you’re in the RSF Village, head toward the large oak tree at the southwest corner of Village Park. Like Gillies-Mize, the bench underneath that tree will serve as a pillar of philanthropy, and encourage members of the community to engage in thoughtful conversations for years to come.

    A dedication ceremony will be held later this year (to be announced).

    To learn more about the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund, visit, contact Korri Ball ( or Judy Oliphant ( for membership information, or attend an RSFWF event this fall, pending COVID-19 restrictions:

    Sept. 10: “Mix & Mingle” lunch (Pony Room, Rancho Valencia)

    Week of Sept. 14: 2020 Grant Celebration

    Week of Sept. 21: 2021 Grants Kickoff

    Oct. 14: “Mix & Mingle” Happy Hour (member’s private residence)

    Nov. 10: General/Speaker Meeting (RSF Golf Club)

    Nov. 16: “Mix & Mingle” Happy Hour (member’s private residence)

    Nov. 17: New Member Social (member’s private residence)

    The bench

    The bench commemorating the life and legacy of RSF Women’s Fund founder Gayle Gillies-Mize.

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Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund

Established in 2004  |  tax #95-3709639

162 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road, Suite B30, Encinitas, CA   92024

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