Avo Makdessian is the Executive Director for the First 5 Association of California, where he leads the strategy and direction of the Association, which represents the 58 county First 5 commissions, as well as its complementary Foundation, and the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy. In his prior role, Avo was Vice President of Silicon Valley Community Foundation where he led a team focused on connecting philanthropists to community investment opportunities, funding actionable research, impact investing, and multi-sector collective impact initiatives. Avo is the founding director of the foundation’s Center for Early Learning – a comprehensive center of grantmaking, research, and state/local advocacy for young children and families. He also led the foundation’s regional grantmaking for COVID-19 response providing millions of dollars to support families with affordable housing, food, and financial assistance.
Prior to joining the foundation, Avo was Policy Director of First 5 Santa Clara County where he implemented First 5’s research agenda, public policy advocacy, and community outreach efforts. Earlier in his career Avo served as the Director of Education and Neighborhood Services for the San Jose Mayor’s Office focusing on early childhood development, neighborhood revitalization, gang prevention, K-12 education, and public health.
Avo serves on the Ad Council’s Advisory Committee on Public Issues and volunteers for several local causes in the Bay Area. Avo attended San Jose State University where he majored in political science.