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Bill Somerville

Bill Somerville’s expansive career as a “maverick” grantmaker spans 48 years in nonprofit work, including 17 years as Executive Director of the Peninsula Community Foundation (now known as the Silicon Valley Community Foundation), before founding Philanthropic Ventures Foundation (PVF, in 1991. Somerville is nationally recognized as an expert on creative grantmaking, having consulted at over 350 community foundations in the United States, Canada and abroad on effective operations and grantmaking. A graduate of UC Berkeley, he has advised major universities on their philanthropy curriculum and has developed and taught philanthropy courses at Stanford University and Laney Community College in Oakland, California. 


In 2008, Somerville authored Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker with Fred Setterberg. In a review, the Financial Times wrote, “In Somerville, I found a risk-taking, venture philanthropist fused with a roll-up-his-sleeves social worker. The mixture is a philanthropic force of nature.”

Somerville's groundbreaking work with PVF has received national media coverage including recent profiles by the Financial Times, San Francisco Business Times, KPIX-TV and Gentry Magazine. A recipient of the Gerbode Fellowship Award in recognition of outstanding achievement as a nonprofit executive, Somerville is also a founding member of the National Advisory Board, Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford University, and the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare Advisory Board.

Somerville and his family live in Berkeley, California in the same house he grew up in.  He keeps active with hobbies including woodworking, raising chickens and gardening.