Mel and Regina Mason Honored with 2021 Distinguished Trustee Award

Mel and Regina Mason Honored with 2021 Distinguished Trustee Award

Each year the Community Foundation for Monterey County (CFMC) presents the Distinguished Trustee Award to an individual or couple who has demonstrated philanthropic leadership in our region. Seaside residents Mel and Regina Mason have dedicated their lives to bringing up community through social justice advocacy, mental health awareness, and pressing for change of policies impacting communities of color.

Their accomplishments were recognized Tuesday, October 19, 2021, by the CFMC at their annual Celebration of Philanthropy. The event took place online and in person at an intimate COVID-compliant celebration at The Club at Pasadera in Monterey. (See full video below).

CFMC President/CEO Dan Baldwin recounted the foundation’s critical work, including record $27 million granted during the 2020 pandemic and $29 million granted through September 2021. Highlights from the evening included the presentation of the award to the Masons and an announcement of an anonymous $50,000 donation from a CFMC donor advisor to The Village Project, Inc. a nonprofit the Masons co-founded. The Village Project is an African-American based family resources center, providing afterschool and weekend academy with education centered around African history and values.

The Masons spoke about their work empowering others and celebrating accomplishments of Africans and American Americans.

What has driven me is having an understanding of oneself to express your identity,” said Mel Mason, adding that such pride and knowledge drives confidence in youth and sets the path for rising above challenges to succeed.

The couple lauded one another for their ability to work as a team. They shared stories of their backgrounds and drive to start the Village Project to address a gap in culturally appropriate mental health services for African Americans and others. Mel has had a long career as a counselor, therapist and Licensed Clinical

Social Worker and Regina holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and retired as a Child Welfare Supervisor of the County of Monterey.

The Masons are a true force for good. They are committed to do what is right,” said Teri Belli, Chair of the Community Foundation for Monterey County Board of Directors. “They show remarkable courage and commitment and command respect in all their dealings based on their expertise, integrity and passion.”

As award recipient, the Masons designated a $10,000 grant from the CFMC to the nonprofit organization(s) of their choice. They selected the NAACP Monterey County Branch and Akira’s Book Club of Oakland, Ca.

The event provided an opportunity for the foundation to thank their donors and partners, who heeded the call to help when the COVID-19 pandemic and three wildfires severely impacted lives throughout Monterey County. Belli also recognized and thanked retiring board members Betsy Buchalter Adler, Birt Johnson, Jr. and Bill Sharpe for their service.

About the Community Foundation for Monterey County

The mission of the Community Foundation for Monterey County is to inspire philanthropy and be a catalyst for strengthening communities throughout Monterey County. Thanks to generous individuals and families who have created charitable funds in their lifetimes or through their estates, the CFMC has granted more than $250 million since 1981. The CFMC also supports local nonprofit organizations by providing capacity building services and leadership development through the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE). For more information visit or call 831.375.9712.

 CFMC Distinguished Trustees

  • Mel and Regina Mason (2021)
  • CFMC 75th Year/No Award (2020)
  • Judge Lydia M. Villarreal (2019)
  • Leon and Sylvia Panetta (2018)
  • Susan and David Gill (2017)
  • William H. Tyler (2016)
  • Nancy Ausonio (2015)
  • Bob Nunes (2014)
  • Warren Wayland (2013)
  • David and Laurie Benjamin (2012)
  • Mike and Mary Orradre (2011)
  • Bob and Sue Antle (2010)
  • Julie Packard (2009)
  • Sherrie McCullough (2008)
  • Maggie Downer (2007)
  • Clint and Dina Eastwood (2006)
  • Ed and Terry Haber (2005)
  • Michael McMahan, Neal McMahan, and Marsha McMahan Zelus (2004)
  • Davis Factor, Jr. (2003)
  • Joanne Taylor-Johnson (2002)
  • Hilton and Roberta Bialek (2001)
  • William and Nancy Doolittle (2000)
  • Jim and Jeri Gattis (1999)
  • Patricia Tynan Chapman (1998)
  • Margaret Owings (1997)
  • Basil Mills (1996)
  • David Packard (1995)
  • Harriet Thurmond and Sarah Hermann (1994)
  • Francis Cislini (1993)
  • Marshall Steel, Jr. (1992)
  • Virginia Stanton and Gordon Paul Smith (1991)
  • Ruth Fenton (1990)
  • John McCone (1989)