Marylyn Thornton pic

Responsibilities at the Trauma Foundation

     I’ve been working with the Trauma Foundation finances since 1986, except for one year spent at the World Institute on Disability in the early 2000’s. Over these years, I have played many roles, primarily as the Chief Financial Officer, responsible for the supervision and day-to-day financial operations of this uniquely creative and complex non-profit. I rejoiced when grants came in and stretched dollars in lean years.
     We had many successes; the fire-safe cigarette, the California motorcycle helmet law, and our multiple roles in The California Wellness Foundation’s Violence Prevention Initiative. Combining survivor advocacy with gun violence prevention, we began the Bell Campaign, and soon became the Million Mom March. However, our grassroots efforts collided with the internal and external politics of gun control, and so we pulled back to bare bones.
     The Trauma Foundation now has a business office in my home in Novato and Lisa Westin is still the bookkeeper. Some things never change.

Liked most about the Trauma Foundation

     The most exciting part was the freedom the Trauma Foundation provided. While the organization allowed us to grow as individuals, we also worked as a community of colleagues, sharing our successes and failures. We did program, the books, fixed computers, put together massive conferences and trainings. We also licked stamps, cleaned offices, moaned and groaned, plotted and planned and, slowly, we changed the world a little bit at a time. At the same time we grew older, became parents, cared for our families, become grandparents, great-grandparents, and all the while, we shared our lives. Our leaders were folks like us and were always part of the team.
     These days, despite going in different directions, many of us have stayed in touch, meet at each others’ homes, and maintain this wonderful extended family.

Learnings still useful

     At the Trauma Foundation I learned how important it is to create a working environment that allows for ease in communication, that has family spirit in the work place, that respects the creative contributions each staff person makes, and that respects the importance of allowing life to be part of work. This is what makes organizations strong and successful.


     I am still with the Trauma Foundation, as a consultant. Concurrently, for more than five years, I have worked as a Financial Analyst for UCSF's San Francisco Injury Center as both full time and part time employee. And, as Andrew McGuire turned his skills toward a Single Payer Health Care movement in California, I became a part-time financial consultant to Health Care for All (HCA) California and the HCA Education Fund, and California Onecare.
     I have also started a new bookkeeping service with Lisa Westin called "The Bookkeepers."


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Email address: marylyn at or marylynthornton at