First 5 Association of California Welcomes Avo Makdessian as Executive Director

SACRAMENTO – First 5 Association of California (F5AC) is delighted to announce the appointment of Avo Makdessian as its new Executive Director, which will commence on August 29, 2022. 

Mr. Makdessian will lead the Association, its complementary Foundation, and the First 5 Center for Children’s Policy. His expertise in advocacy, grantmaking, research, and community outreach will continue to strengthen the advantageous partnership of the First 5 network and the delivery of an equitable future to ensure that California’s youngest children and their families have the supports they need to succeed in school and in life. He will serve to further advance the Association’s 2022-24 Strategic Plan which was launched in January 2022. 

“First 5s are uniquely positioned to advance early childhood systems and, as architects of change, require a visionary who can lead the Association to execute strategic initiatives so that California’s youngest children can thrive,” said Kitty Lopez, President of F5AC. “Avo is that leader.”

Mr. Makdessian brings a wealth of experience to his new role at the Association, having previously served as Policy Director for First 5 Santa Clara. He is currently Vice President of Community Partnerships and Learning for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. At the Foundation, he led a team focused on connecting philanthropists to community investment opportunities, funding actionable research, impact investing, and multi-sector collective impact initiatives. He is the Founding Director of the Foundation’s Center for Early Learning.

“I am honored to be the next Executive Director of the First 5 Association of California and partner with the First 5 network of commissions, providers, and community leaders to ensure California’s youngest children and families are thriving,” said Mr. Makdessian. “I look forward to forging and strengthening partnerships across the state to realize our vision – that California’s success is measured by the well-being of our youngest children. As a father of two young children, and a former member of a local First 5 commission, this vision is dear to my heart and I am thrilled at the opportunity to support meaningful impact for our state’s children and families.”

Mr. Makdessian currently serves on the Ad Council’s Advisory Committee on Public Issues. He attended San Jose State University where he majored in political science. He lives in San Jose with his wife and two children.


About First 5 Association

First 5 Association of California is the voice of the 58 First 5 county commissions, which were created by voters in 1998 to ensure our young children are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. Together, First 5 touches the lives of more than one million kids, families, and caregivers each year, and strengthens our state by giving kids the best start in life. Learn more at