Clinic mourns passing of Paul Saben, long-time board member and volunteer

Paul Saben, a long-time member of the Venice Family Clinic Board of Directors and real estate finance professional dedicated to providing affordable housing in Los Angeles, passed away on June 9 at the age of 80.

Saben used his business, planning and financial acumen to help guide the Clinic’s strategic direction over the past 44 years. He served as the Clinic’s board treasurer for many years before becoming board chair, and then utilized his talents on several committees, including the finance, strategic planning and audit committees.

“Paul’s intimate involvement with Venice Family Clinic’s strategic planning process and the development and implementation of each of our strategic plans allowed the Clinic to innovate, grow and thrive,” said Elizabeth Benson Forer, chief executive officer and executive director of the Clinic. “At committee meetings, Paul was known to ask difficult questions. These questions often caused a deeper dive and more work, but Paul always came to me immediately after the meeting to offer to do the work using his extraordinary financial knowledge to our benefit. Paul was our rock. His leadership will be greatly missed.”

In 1975, he began working for UCLA, overseeing all real estate needs for off-campus functions. It was during this time that Saben met Meg Ross-Price, then executive director of Venice Family Clinic.

Because of the Clinic’s agreement with UCLA’s school of medicine, Saben ended up being the one to sign the lease renewal for the Lincoln Boulevard space that Venice Family Clinic operated out of until it found its permanent home on Rose Avenue. That’s how he got to know the Clinic and Ross-Price, who asked him to join the Clinic’s first Board of Directors as treasurer.

Saben was part of the board that oversaw many of the pivotal moments in the Clinic’s history, including the development of the Clinic’s fundraising program, purchase of the buildings to serve as Venice Family Clinic’s current permanent homes, and takeover of a Los Angeles County health center in Santa Monica that is now the Simms/Mann Health and Wellness Center. As board chair, Saben focused on long-term, strategic planning and the management of information for the board’s education and use.

Despite his emphasis on analysis, Saben’s decades-long involvement with the Clinic endured because of his belief in its mission to serve those in need.

“The core values of Venice Family Clinic include the right of every person living in this country to be healthy,” Saben said in a 2003 interview. “That’s consistent with what I’ve learned is important in life:  that everyone, regardless of financial ability, should have access to quality health care. Not medical care, health care.”