Lucky for me, I get to mix celebration with United Way’s focus on education & family stability. This month, that included honoring an elementary school’s outstanding everyday attendance rate (Go, Franklin!), lauding the efforts of the Partnership for Children’s own efforts in attendance improvement, and, most significantly for this season, helping our neighbors in need by co-hosting the annual Food & Toy Distribution at the Stadium with our partners and friends at the Labor Council. Read more about these and the other ways we’re connecting United Way to the community.
Alberto Cortez, CEO, Mama’s Kitchen, hosted the annual tree lighting on World AIDS Day at the Plaza on 5th Avenue. It’s always a great turnout with elected officials – Representative Scott Peters; Speaker Pro Tempore, Toni Atkins; Assemblymember Todd Gloria, via video; Supervisor Ron Roberts; Councilmembers Barbara Bry, Chris Cate, Chris Ward; and school board member Kevin Beiser – also the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence; Dr. Adam Zweig and the Gay Men’s Chorus; and Ed Quinlan, CEO, CHIP. This tree lighting is a particularly special event as it honors those we have lost to this disease as well as it celebrates the progress in treatment and prevention options.
Oh, what a fun morning! We celebrated the 97.15% attendance record at Franklin Elementary! United Way’s Attendance HEROs – Here, Every day, Ready and On Time – dressed up as superheroes and greeted students as they arrived at school…celebrating the fact that they were at school. At the assembly, we cheered their winning attendance record out of 16 participating schools. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also joined them in their classrooms to honor the teachers who come every day, ready to teach the students. Our thanks to staff and volunteers who made this such a special day!
This morning was dedicated to learning more about the work at Classroom of the Future Foundation. This pilot project at Clairemont High School, with funding from the Moxie Foundation and SDUSD, transforms the way students are taught. Students learn by using experimental projects, hands-on opportunities that put their learning into practice, making education more relevant. Divided into four academies, students are more engaged in areas they have interest. Now, the foundation is ready to do this again – and again – to bring it to scale! Congratulations, James Wright, CEO, for a successful project and informative meeting today. I look forward to our upcoming one-on-one meeting.
For lunch, I joined many community members at the Metro Region Career Centers to learn more about Opportunity Zones. Hosted by Robert Foster, Director of San Diego Impact Investors Network of San Diego Grantmakers, we learned about the history and the future possibilities for San Diego.
Later in the afternoon, Ian Gordon and I traveled to Oceanside to meet with Dr. Sunny Cooke on the campus of MiraCosta College. We learned about the campus students’ expanding needs and the unfunded services MiraCosta offers. In my previous work, areas that surfaced were the mental health support needed as well as food insecurities.
And in the evening I joined a whole host of others at the annual San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce holiday event at the Hotel Del Coronado! Awesome event, Jerry Sanders, CEO, SD Regional Chamber of Commerce!
I started my day with a breakfast with Kim Becker, CEO, San Diego Airport Authority, and Nancy Jamison, CEO, San Diego Grantmakers. Sometimes it’s good to join others for informal conversation and life outside of work!
Two events tonight – ‘Tis the season #1! First, I celebrated with SupervisorRon Roberts as he ends his term on the Board of Supervisors. I have enjoyed my work with him in a variety of areas and most especially in his leadership role with the Regional Task Force on Homelessness. I’ll miss working with him but hope our paths will cross in the future. The second event was with one of United Way’s affinity groups, Women United (formerly Women’s Leadership Council), at Kendra Scott. So many reasons to be here – supporting their effort to raise funds for United Way and because Kendra Scott is from Austin, Texas, and a University of Texas grad!
Back in September, I attended the Strive Together conference. One morning I was headed to a session when I heard someone trying to get into the hotel through a door that was still locked without a guest key. I opened the door for her and lo and behold it was someone interested in pay for success and impact investing! So today, Shelby Kohn and Ariella Rotenberg from Maycomb Capital met with Ian Gordon and me to talk about potential areas of collaboration! Just goes to show you: always open the door for someone when you have a chance…
In the afternoon, Sarah E. Bowles, VP Global Philanthropy with JPMorgan Chase, met with our staff – Lisa Kalal, VP Philanthropy, Ian Gordon, Chief Impact Officer, and myself – to hear more about our work and our future priorities. Unfortunately, that meant I had to miss our own Ugly Sweater contest – won by Marvin Ellis!
Again with the rain! Tonight I was honored by the Urban League, led by CEO Ray King, along with other amazing Women in Leadership. I was humbled to be in the group that included Speaker Pro Tempore,Toni Atkins; Cónsul General of Mexico in San Diego, Marcela Celorio;Kirby Brady, San Diego Regional EDC;Janice Brown, Brown Law Group; Zeeda Daniele, New American Funding; Kathy Patoff,Union Bank; Becky Phillpott, SDUSD (retired); Dee Thomas, SAIC and SDSU (retired); and Vickie Turner, Turner, Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP.
Later, Ian Gordon and I met with Jennifer James, Harder + Company, to talk about data collection and collaborative efforts. Topics that come up in these discussions look at the role of mapping resources and understanding the interconnection between various organizations. It starts looking like a tangled web when viewed from the consumer’s perspective. The system can make it incredibly complicated. Hmmm….does United Way have a role in bringing partners together to make the system more efficient? What do you say?
I ended the day with a quick trip to the IBEW holiday party. They were collecting toys for the Labor Council/United Way Unions United’s Food and Toy Distribution later this month, along with hosting a great buffet, raffle prizes, drinks, live music, and even Santa for the kids. I got to meet Nate Fairman, Business Manager, IBEW local 465, and also ran into Keith Maddox, San Diego Labor Council, his daughter, and some of his staff.
The Wacky Winter Wonderland holiday event at San Diego Center for Children is always lively and fun. CEOMoises Baron hosted the annual event with bungee jumps, Santa, arts and crafts, food, and a holiday costume contest. I was sorry to miss the train parade, but it’s a good time for all ages!
I was invited to tour the campus at Miramar College. What a beautiful, inviting, and easy-to-navigate campus! I’m always struck by the amount of services offered to students (beyond the typical education classes) and the community partnerships they’ve created to share the facilities with others. Thanks to Dr. Patricia Hsieh for the tour and her incredible vision for the campus!
The last event of the evening was with Karim Bouris, Business for Good. This group came together to impact policy changes that affect the community’s greater good. They also honored several community partners for their work:
A fellow United Way CEO reached out to ask me to talk with his daughter’s friend about employment in San Diego. Today I met with Anna Ta to discuss opportunities working with children with a focus on adoption or social work. Anna is a bright young woman who has a clear passion for a better world for children. I look forward to following her career path in San Diego!
I also met with Leanne Abraham, who I had previously met through a grant with Solutions for Change, where she’s the incoming chair. It was a great opportunity to get an update on their work and progress.
This evening I attended the Jingle and Mingle event for the Community Resource Center in Encinitas. Hosted by John VanCleef, CEO, at the Del Mar Racetrack, we saw the “Holiday Basket” work for struggling families to get food and gifts for the holidays. Fun photos went along with a silent and live auction to raise funds for their programs, including domestic violence shelters, food pantry, and thrift stores.
‘Tis the season #2 – I was invited to attend the Carmody Team holiday celebration at JRDN. Although I didn’t expect to know many people, I had a chance to catch up with Jim Floros, CEO, Jacobs and Cushman Food Bank; Sean Mahoney, CEO, American Red Cross; and many others. Happy Holidays, everyone!
We held our own holiday party for staff and significant others at the Turtle Reef at SeaWorld. We had a fun time watching the turtles and fish, playing the turtle race game, enjoying the food and drinks, and learning more about each other while playing bingo! Thanks to our Employee Committee team for hosting the event and to Mitchell Medrano for emceeing the evening!
‘Tis the Season #3 for the Annual Holiday Food and Toy Distribution. United Way of San Diego joined the San Diego Labor Council at SDCCU Stadium to distribute food and toys to 500 families. Folks started arriving early this morning to drive through the line in their cars. Even though they were receiving toys for their children, many arrived with kids in their car, too. I imagined they had nowhere to take their kids while they waited to receive food and toys. Many came in work vehicles or older-model cars, but all were grateful for the food, the toys, and the good cheer from the volunteers who made it all happen. Many thanks to Keith Maddox, San Diego Labor Counciland Ruby Featherly, United Way’s Unions United, for coordinating all the efforts, and to the many unions who were represented as volunteers. SDG&E staff, including Warren Ruis, also helped out, and Vince Hall, CEO, Feeding San Diego, was there with his staff and the pounds and pounds of food that was distributed. It was a full meal – turkey, potatoes, vegetables, and bread! Keith Maddox and I were joined by our media teams – Laura Fink, Rebelle Communications, and Sandy Young, J. Walcher Communications – to provide live interviews with KUSI, Channel 10, and Fox News.
I also met with Ernesta Johnson, Neighborhood House Association, to learn more about their plans to open a charter school in the future! As one of the largest providers of Head Start programs, it’s a natural progression for NHA to follow these children throughout their education paths.
10 Newsdeveloped stories on surviving in San Diego and the various ways families and individuals struggle in our community. Today, we focused on a young girl at Adams Elementary who, despite living with 4 other people, has a tough time getting to school every day. Her story forced us to step back and look at the systems that are designed to help but ended up failing this young girl too many times. Our work with school attendance helped her achieve her goal – attending school every day for 5 days in a row! Congratulations to her! I was also able to highlight our work building the capacity of school attendance teams, as well as interns, to reduce the number of chronically absent children.
I caught up with Jacob James at lunch today. Surprising news: he’s reducing his role at the Waitt Foundation and will become a special consultant in January. I look forward to watching him develop his next direction and the impact he will have on our community in the future!
Home for the holidays… Hope y’all had a great season! While I was away, I visited the E3 (Education Equals Economics)project in Austin, Texas. Now serving a five-county area in Central Texas, E3 acts as a data analytics and research firm that identifies areas in the education system that aren’t producing the desired results. They convene community partners and, together, design solutions through a common agenda. Thanks, Sue Dawson, CEO, E3, for sharing your work’s history and progress!
Many thanks to my former CFO,Paul Brown, for connecting me to Win Englebert, VP, Business Development, at Bank of the West. We had a great conversation about work in San Diego’s nonprofit community, the fact that he has run 101 marathons (!), and how we can connect in the future.
Sierra Visher, San Diego Social Venture Partners, and I have been in the same meeting many times but haven’t had the chance to say “Hi” for a while now. Today we were able to catch up by phone and talk about their upcoming work in health. Even though United Way focuses on Education, my background in Health and Wellness intersects on many occasions. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of SVP’s interest in health in the New Year!