Meet the MAF Padrino: John A. Sobrato
John A. Sobrato is an example of someone who shows up, does more, and does better. At the start of the pandemic, John reached out to MAF with a clear goal: to support immigrant families in San Mateo County who were excluded from federal relief.
John, Board Chair Emeritus of Sobrato Family Foundation, gave $5 million himself to support our Rapid Response emergency cash assistance efforts. But he didn’t just stop there. John put in the work — writing and calling family, friends, and neighbors for support, more than tripling the initial fund for the San Mateo County Immigrant Relief Fund.
“His calls got to a point, as he once told me — a little stunned, but proud at the same time: ‘José, they’ve stopped returning my calls!’” MAF CEO José Quiñonez recalls. “I responded, ‘Welcome to my world, John!’”
That’s why at MAF’s 15-year quinceañera celebration, John was presented with the Padrino Award.
“Typically, padrinos and madrinas are the guests of honor, the people everyone looks to with awe and reverence. They’re the ones who sponsor the cake, after all,” José said, while presenting the award. “But they are more than that — Padrinos and Madrinas are mentors and role models, advisors, and guides for young people through life.”
While John couldn’t be there in person to accept his butterfly plaque, Sandy Herz, President of Sobrato Philanthropies, did so on his behalf. “When he sees something he thinks is wrong and unfair, it becomes a mission for him,” Sandy said of John. “And he doesn’t just put money down. He invests his time, he invests his network, and he invests his relationships. He won’t ever do it alone. He brings others along with him because changing the world is a team sport.”
“I hope there’s never another pandemic,” John said to the audience, via a pre-recorded video. “But I take comfort in knowing there is an organization like Mission Asset Fund that will be there to support immigrant families with dignity and respect.”