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Why $20 Million Matters? Foundation Shares Inspiring Scholarship Stories



Wendy McCulley, executive director of the Foundation for FUSD, spoke to the power of college scholarships, at a gala event on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (GV Wire/David Taub)
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The celebration for the Foundation for Fresno Unified Schools could easily have been about the $20 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

While the unprecedented gift was the talk of Thursday’s night gala at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, the focus was on how the money will be used.

With the backdrop of giraffes and elephants, foundation executive director Wendy McCulley and board member Misty Her gave personal and emotional testimony of how far scholarship money can go.

Her talked about the sacrifice her family made — her father forewent medicine to save money for her college education. A $3,000 scholarship she received from various groups helped with books and lodging.

“I made a conscious decision to be smart.”Foundation for FUSD Executive Director Wendy McCulley

McCulley also shared her story growing up poor in Memphis, Tennessee.

“When I was six, I decided I was not going to sing or dance. I was not going to play sports because I didn’t want to be stereotyped. Instead, I made a conscious decision to be smart,” McCulley said.

“But there was not much left for college or college dreams. After the $96 a month my mother got in child support for three kids. There was no way I would have ever made it to or through Harvard without the generosity of others.”

The foundation is relatively new, less than a year old. Approximately 60% of school districts in the state have a fundraising foundation such as those found in the Fresno, Clovis, Central, and Sanger districts.

Above: FUSD superintendent Bob Nelson and Fresno Deputy Police Chief Mindy Casto. Below: Fresno Housing Authority CEO Tyrone Roderick Williams makes new friends. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Also in Politics 101 …

  • Poll says Pazin leads Soria.
  • What others are saying about Ruthie Quinto’s dual roles.
  • Navkaran Gurm is still a Democrat in good standing.

Pazin Leads Soria in Poll

Despite a +16% Democratic advantage, Republican Mark Pazin has a four-point polling lead for Assembly District 27 over Democrat Esmeralda Soria, 41%-37%.

Pazin unveiled the poll from Public Opinion Strategies of 400 likely voters, conducted Sept. 28-Oct. 2, with a margin of error of plus/minus 4.9%.

Pazin, a former Merced County sheriff, and Soria, a Fresno city councilwoman, are advertising on television. Both tout their public safety credentials.

“Soria also used taxpayer funds to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with far-left “defund the police” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Soria may claim law enforcement support but that can’t hide her record of progressive activism that hinders law enforcement and public safety,” Pazin’s campaign said in a news release.

Soria visited AOC in 2019 to apologize for a disparaging video the Fresno Grizzlies baseball team played during a game that year.

The Assembly district covers portions of Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties.

The Soria campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Data on the poll can be found here and here.

An Update on Ruthie Quinto’s Two Jobs

Ruthie Quinto

Neither a professional organization nor her other employer has a problem with Ruthie Quinto holding similar jobs in two cities.

Last week, Quinto — an assistant city manager with Fresno — was appointed interim controller, the head of the city’s finance department.

She also is the treasurer for the southern California beach city of Malibu.

“The City has looked into the issue and holding the two offices does not itself create a conflict with Ms. Quinto’s duties as Malibu’s Treasurer,” a Malibu city spokesman told Politics 101.

Mike Mucha, deputy executive director with the Government Finance Officers Association, also finds no fault in the arrangement.

“I do not see any conflicts with an individual simply holding positions with two governments, as long as the individual is able to complete the required job requirements from both positions,” Mucha said in an email.

Mucha said governments are needing to be more creative to attract and retain talent, including remote work and job sharing.

Gurm Is Still a Democrat in Good Standing

Navkaran Gurm

Navkaran Gurm, a local Democratic Party activist and member of the county central committee, beat back a motion that could have potentially removed him from leadership.

A motion to discuss the violation of party by-laws was removed from the agenda at a party meeting last Wednesday.

Gurm and others were in hot water for supporting Republican Susan Wittrup in the Fresno Unified school board race. It is against party bylaws to support a non-Democrat. The school board race is officially non-partisan.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email