- Heidi James
Board Profile: Raj Gopal
Heidi James, vice president of development, recently had the opportunity to interview Raj Gopal, Chief Risk Officer (SEVP) for Bank of the West. Raj has been an invaluable member of our board and finance committee since 2015. He is also a talented musician who has helped to raise money for Bread & Roses through several charity concerts over the years.
Q. What is your background overall and how did you first come to Bread & Roses?
A. I have an extensive background in financial services risk and portfolio management having spent 15 years at Wachovia and Wells Fargo Banks before joining Bank of the West in 2010. I was born and raised in Malaysia, lived many years in Atlanta, GA before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2009.
A former Bank of the West colleague first introduced me to Bread & Roses. He discovered that I played guitar and brought me to an institutional show at New Bridge, a rehabilitation facility in Berkeley, to see if I’d be interested in joining. It was really wonderful to see how live music could engage an audience and bring so much happiness to people. Once I saw that, I said “absolutely.” Being involved with Bread & Roses has been a great fit for my passion and interest in music and helping others.
Q. What makes you passionate about our mission? How does your history of being a musician help in your service on our board?
A. Personally, I have always been able to turn to music, whether it is to meditate or cheer myself up. It is very healing for me. This is exactly why I care so much for Bread & Roses mission, to bring hope, healing and joy through live music to isolated audiences.
My intrinsic understanding of the mission of Bread & Roses as well as my musical background helps me to be a better board member. I am engaged not only in the governance of the organization, but have been able to live and breathe the mission by volunteering to play at institutional shows, including at nursing homes and a drug rehabilitation center.
Q. Can you talk about other contributions you have made as a board member?
A. I have put on a couple of charity concerts over the past few years. Thanks to the kind donations of a number of Bank of the West colleagues and others, I managed to raise more than ten thousand dollars. I am also a donor and have sponsored many of the organization’s annual benefit concerts. Bank of the West also provides grants to Bread & Roses to help them fulfill their mission.
Executive Director Dave Perron noted “We are grateful to Raj for sharing not only his time, but also his talent as a musician performing for our institutional programs and to benefit our fund-raising. He is an exemplary board member who has contributed greatly to our organization with his financial acumen.”
Q & A -- Intro and Questions by Heidi James, Vice President, Development; Answers by Raj Gopal
1) Matt Jaffe (l) with Raj Gopal (r) at 2019 Spring Benefit Concert at Great American Music Hall. Photo by Ken Friedman.
2) Raj Gopal played music in collaboration with dancer Richa Sharma for the seniors at The Tamalpais in Greenbrae in 2018. Video by Marian Hubler.
3) In 2018 Raj Gopal hosted a soirée and benefit concert for Bread & Roses “Rockin’ for a Cause in Rowlandia” co-hosted by Vanessa Washington Rowland and Wayne Rowland at their beautiful home in Piedmont. Wayne sang "The Girl From Ipanema" in Portuguese accompanied by Raj on guitar and Don Osborne on keyboard. Video by Marian Hubler.
4) Raj Gopal gave a personal testimonial at the 2017 JAM. Filmed and edited by Andrew Kaluzynski.