Written By: Kiva Barry, Marketing Manager, and Memo Ramirez, Marketing Coordinator
UWSD Affinity Groups: Networking with a Purpose
How are you connecting in and outside of your organization? What avenues are you using to build your professional development and make an impact on your community? UWSD is here to help you! United Way of San Diego County’s Emerging Leaders and Women United affinity groups are a great way to connect with like-minded peers across various industries while also providing a way to give to back to those in our community who need support most. Typical networking groups often lack a philanthropic aspect, but UWSD’s affinity groups allow members to network with a purpose, in turn creating a long-lasting impact on both members and the broader community. We believe that we all rise when we lift others.
Networking can be a daunting task, but UWSD’s affinity groups offer a welcoming, enriching, and fun environment for all current and prospective members. Each event is an opportunity to make new connections, learn about other organizations, and become a champion for philanthropic causes that create a deeper impact across San Diego County.
Our Emerging Leaders network, which focuses on volunteerism and professional development, delivers on its mission to turn today’s members into tomorrow’s leaders. Emerging Leaders’ events provide opportunities for professionals to foster strong relationships with peers across non-profit and private sectors in industries such as manufacturing, insurance, education, engineering, social services, marketing, and more. Past events have included professional skill-building workshops taught by San Diego business leaders, as well as tours of The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park and the San Diego International Airport. As a member, you are given an inside look into San Diego businesses and access to the professionals that lead them!
Women United currently represents more than 70 members across a variety of industries and sectors, offering meaningful philanthropic opportunities to learn, lead, network, and support other like-minded professional women. Whether taking advantage of local volunteer opportunities or fundraising for a college scholarship, members experience the first-hand impact that they make when uniting together. Women United members not only raise funds, they also determine how the Women United Fund dollars will be allocated to make the most impact on helping women and children here in San Diego County. In 2022, Women United allocated $150k to support 10 high school seniors with scholarships, seed funding for UWSD’s STEAM to Careers programming, and a two-year partnership with Armed Services YMCA-Camp Pendleton to support Operation Little Learners.
Emerging Leaders and Women United offer high-quality activities such as workshops and programming to enhance professional skills and one-of-a-kind experiences that leave members with a fresh perspective, and often, new friendships. The value from both organizations extends beyond attending networking events – both new and long-standing members can get involved in purposeful charitable work, support their professional ambitions, and develop close personal connections outside of their existing social circle.
By subscribing to the UWSD newsletters and following UWSD on social media, you can stay up-to-date on all upcoming events and opportunities. You can learn more about Women United and Emerging Leaders and join them at one of their next events.
Written by: Alli Temnick, Senior Development Executive
On Tuesday, June 22nd, Mayor Todd Gloria spent part of his 196th day in office hosting a virtual leadership spotlight for United Way of San Diego County’s Emerging Leaders. As the mayor of America’s Finest City, Mayor Gloria said that no two days are the same – and we are grateful that he set aside time to speak to our group of Emerging Leaders to share advice in the middle of a long and busy day.
Mayor Todd Gloria is a third generation San Diegan, and the first in his family to go to college. He recalled fond memories of his parents instilling strong values and the importance of education in him, even though they did not have access to higher education themselves. Additionally, Mayor Gloria shares United Way of San Diego County’s focus on the importance of education and mentoring. In his words, education is “the difference maker.” His personal story attests to how true that is, and he is confident that education will continue to make a difference for the next generation of San Diegans.
As a San Diego native, Mayor Gloria has seen San Diego change in many ways over the course of his lifetime. He joked that he was old enough to remember when the city ended with the 52 freeway and Mission Valley was mostly farmland. Although he has seen San Diego come a long way, he believes that we still have a long way to go.
During his time as mayor, he hopes to create change in two specific areas: housing and infrastructure. As we all know, housing is very expensive here in San Diego, and the mayor believes that more housing will prevent housing costs from going even higher, and entice more young professionals to move here. Additionally, he wants to ensure that we invest in the infrastructure that our city will need moving forward. (We will be voting on a regional transportation plan later this year.)
When asked what advice he would give to young professionals, Mayor Gloria emphasized the importance of authenticity. In his experience, when he has participated in events that don’t perfectly align with his values, it is obvious to others and it usually doesn’t turn out well. He also mentioned the importance of listening more than you speak, embracing who you are, and not listening to the voices in your head that tell you “no.” Following these pieces of advice have enabled him to be successful in his career.
The final question posed to the mayor was, “As the first person of color and the first openly gay person to serve as San Diego’s mayor, your election has underscored the need for representation in leadership positions. What advice would you give to young professionals who aspire to follow in your footsteps?” He quickly responded, “I hope that they would. I may be the first, but I don’t want to be the last.” It is difficult for people to be something that they haven’t seen, but Mayor Gloria took a different path, by saying “if you haven’t seen it, let’s go make it.”
Mayor Gloria recalled a political science professor in the 1990s saying, “If you want to be in public office you can’t be two things. One is gay…” He never remembered the second point because he was so astonished that someone would say something like that. Fortunately, Mayor Gloria knew his history, so he knew that wasn’t true. He encouraged all of us to be people who inspire young people to reject negative messages like that one, or to give a positive impression instead.
One great message we can all take away from the event is that you don’t have to be in politics to effect change. There are many tremendous opportunities to improve our city that don’t require you to put your name on a ballot, so Mayor Gloria encouraged us to consider the ways that we can all be people who inspire others.
What will you do to inspire a positive change in our community?
United Way of San Diego County Emerging Leaders are young professionals interested in cross industry networking, volunteering, and being involved in the San Diego community. Find out more about membership and upcoming events.