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The Charles Lee Powell Foundation

Supporting the schools of engineering at California Institute of Technology, University of California at San Diego, University of Southern California & Stanford University.

About The Charles Lee Powell Foundation

The Charles Lee Powell Foundation is a 501(c) (3) corporation that has a strong history of supporting science and engineering programs at four California universities:

  • California Institute of Technology

  • University of California, San Diego 

  • University of Southern California

  • Stanford University

The Foundation remains focused on funding impactful grants to the engineering programs at this limited number of recipient institutions, and is not entertaining new solicitations or changing this list of grantee institutions.


Certified Public Accountant: Jenkins Bowler, LLP4

Office Administrator: Froilana L. Ulloa

About Charles Lee Powell

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The Foundation was established in 1954 by Charles Lee Powell (1863-1959).

Charles Lee Powell was a pioneering, self-taught engineer who invented and patented new methods for building concrete structures underground. He is credited with building much of Los Angeles’ early infrastructure, including the Second and Third Street Tunnels and the Angels Flight funicular railway in the historic downtown Bunker Hill district. In addition to landmark structures, Powell’s firm built one of the first modern sewerage systems in downtown Los Angeles, replacing the open redwood sewer trenches that had served city residents. As a contractor, he was admired for implementing numerous worker safety measures in what were often extremely dangerous underground construction projects. Additionally, Powell purchased real estate in Los Angeles, the Imperial Valley, San Diego County and New Mexico.

Charles Lee Powell remained committed to a strong work ethic throughout his life, working until his death at age 96. Powell made provisions in his will for a charitable foundation that would carry forward his legacy of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

Judge Focht

Judge James L. Focht served on the first board of directors for the Charles Lee Powell Foundation.

After his passing in 1985, a portion of his estate was provided to the Charles Lee Powell Foundation and designated to benefit the University of California San Diego’s (UCSD) engineering and sciences programs. These funds included providing two million dollars toward the Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall at UCSD. The balance of the Focht gift has provided Focht-Powell Fellowships in Engineering at UCSD for over 25 consecutive years and continues to do so.

Highlights of Support

To date, the Charles Lee Powell Foundation has given grants in support of education and specifically schools of engineering in excess of $115 million over the course of its operation

California Institute of Technology

• Charles Lee Powell Professorship Endowment Fund
• Kunzel Endowment Fund
• Powell Research & Equipment Grants

University of California San Diego

• Charles Lee Powell Structural Systems Laboratory
• Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall
• Charles Lee Powell Foundation Terrace at Franklin Antonio Hall
• Charles Lee Powell Chair in Wireless Communication
• Charles Lee Powell Endowed Chair in Mathematics I
• Charles Lee Powell Endowed Chair in Mathematics II
• Charles Lee Powell Endowed Graduate Fellowship
• Herbert Kunzel Endowed Scholarship Fellowship Fund
• EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio

University of Southern California

• Charles Lee Powell Hall of Information Sciences and Systems Engineering
• Charles Lee Powell Photonics Instructional Laboratory
• Charles Lee Powell Chair in Computer Engineering
• Charles Lee Powell Chair in Electrical Engineering
• Endowed Herbert Kunzel Fellowships for PhD students
• Faculty Research & Equipment Grants

Stanford University

• Charles Lee Powell Faculty Scholar Endowment
• Charles Lee Powell Professorship
• Herbert Kunzel Fellowships in Science and Engineering

Board of Directors

William Holliday - President & CEO

William “Will” Holliday joined the board of directors in 2015, assumed the role of President and Chief Executive Officer in 2022 and serves on the foundation’s Investment Committee.

Will received his B.A. from Colgate University and M.B.A. from San Diego State University.

Will has held various positions at multiple financial software companies.

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Mary Berglund - Director & Treasurer

Mary Berglund joined the board of directors in 1997, serves as the foundation’s Treasurer and is the chairperson for the foundation’s Investment Committee.

Mary was previously an Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Research Associate at the University of California Irvine. Mary also served as Chairperson and Commissioner for the State of California’s, California Transportation Commission. Mary remains active as an Executive Vice President of the The J. Berglund Company, Inc., Treasurer, Director, Investment Chairperson and Philanthropy Committee of the ResMed Foundation. Additionally, Mary is a Trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Chairs both the Finance and Investment Committees, as well as being a former Board President.

Mary received her B.S. from Pacific University, M.A. and Ph.D from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, plus Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Pacific University.

William Low - Director

William “Bill” M. Low joined the board of directors in 2015, serves as Chairperson of both the Audit and Compensation Committees, as well as a member of the foundation’s Investment Committee.

Bill is a partner with the law firm Higgs Fletcher & Mack. He holds the following distinctions, Member: American Inns of Court (Master); Association of Business Trial Lawyers; American Board of Trial Advocates; Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers; San Diego County, American Bar Association and California Bar Associations.

Bill received his B.A. from University of California, Los Angeles, and J.D. from Loyola Law School.

Additionally, Bill also earned and was awarded the honor of Eagle Scout and has served as a Scoutmaster.

Margaret E. Mangin - Director

Margaret E. Mangin joined the board of directors in 2022, she serves on both the Audit and Compensation Committees.

Margaret remains Assistant Vice President, Associate General Counsel at Scripps Health, formerly an Associate Attorney at Higgs, Fletcher & Mack and McInnis, Fitzgerald, Rees & Sharkey.

Margaret holds the following distinctions, Member: California Bar Association and California Society for Healthcare Attorneys. Margaret received both her B.S. and J.D. from the University of San Diego.

Additionally, Margaret was formerly a registered nurse at both Sharp Hospital and Mercy Hospital.

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Charles Castle - Director

Charles Castle joined the board of directors in 2022, he serves on both the Audit and Compensation Committees.

Until recently, Charles was an executive with the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego for over 30 years where he served as Deputy Director and CFO. Additionally, Charles worked with both the Frederick Weisman Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, as well as the accounting firm of Lutz & Carr.

Charles received his M.B.A. from the Anderson School at University of California, Los Angeles.


Learn about the latest news with the Charles Lee Powell Foundation

USC Visit and Honoring of Joel Holliday

UCSD Welcome Breakfast of the 2023-2024 Powell Fellows

UCSD Powell Fellows Annual Luncheon

CLPF Attends Ribbon Cutting for Franklin Antonio Hall building

The Charles Lee Powell Foundation
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