Nancy’s Blog: December 2019

Nancy stands in front of Red Cross event wallpaper


Dec 2

I had lunch with Dr. Marti Andrews today who has offered to host an evening of chocolate and wine pairing in February in celebration of our Centennial Year! We were finalizing the details over healthy salads so I hope you will be able to join us in one of the many celebrations throughout the year in 2020!

Dec 3

Congratulations to Alpha Project and Kitchens for Good for their Bank of America Neighborhood Builders grant! These grants also come with leadership development and technical assistance from the bank throughout the year. The breakfast also highlighted Bank of America’s broader commitment to giving back to communities across the country.

Dec 4

It has been a while, but it was good to catch up with Cea Ishikawa, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, at lunch today. It is great to learn of the exponential growth of Planned Parenthood but not so great to hear about the continued challenges they face with federal funding.

I definitely felt the holiday season as I joined the Union delegates’ appreciation dinner tonight. Our longtime partnership with the unions through our Unions United program is an essential part of ensuring family stability. Through this program, we are able to provide food, rent and mortgage assistance, and utility bill support – not only to union members, but also to other San Diego County residents.

Dec 5

Socks Packaged as Gifts with Card

I spent some time this afternoon with Mel Katz, co-owner of Manpower, to talk about his ideas on innovation in education for San Diego County. Mel is an incredible thought leader and offered some great insights into what could be done to improve learning and education pathways for our county’s children.

Our office also celebrated the holidays with a party at Ten Barrel Brewing. The Employee Committee, and internal committee to support organizational morale, put together a wonderful celebration of each employee as well as games, like trivia. We all left with a pair of funny socks to make us smile throughout the year!

Dec 7

I stopped by HomeStart’s Boutique Thrift Store to celebrate the holiday season. Their Bright Futures candles smell wonderful and I bought several as gifts. The candles, made by HomeStart residents, are part of a special social enterprise for the organization’s women.

Dec 8

Each year, the San Diego Center for Children holds their annual Wacky Wonderland celebration for kids. I try to stop by, donate some toys, and check out the activities. Not even a light rain could stop the Wacky Wonderland train and the funny costume contest. Yummy food and games add to the festive and fun celebration!

Dec 9

I started my day with a meeting with Ed Hidalgo to talk about his program in the Cajon Valley School District. Have you heard of RIASEC? This refers to a theory of careers and vocational choice based on personality types. Many parents might say, “Oh, my son loves to draw and color,” or “My child loves to take things apart and put them back together,” but then we encourage our children to go into a field where they will earn more money. The two may or may not be connected! So, what is RIASEC? R = Realistic; I = Investigative; A = Artistic; S = Social; E = Enterprising; and C = Conventional. This was a fascinating discussion about what is working and what isn’t working in our overall education system.

Children Play with Fake Snow

It isn’t just the holiday season, it’s the season of giving back and going to holiday parties! Of course, it isn’t all about celebration: Our county’s enduring issues around supporting San Diego’s children were also top of mind this month. Whether learning about Early Childhood Education or how education impacts childhood literacy or delivering gifts to kids before Christmas, I was constantly reminded of United Way’s opportunities to align partners, leverage resources, and transform lives…not just during the holidays, but all year round.

In the afternoon, I headed over to the Strengthening Families presentation with Dr. Daniel Webster, who was presenting data on the San Diego County Child Welfare system, including the areas where we’re making progress and the areas where the trend is showing some decline. As United Way examines which children are succeeding in learning and education milestones, this data will be an important overlay in understanding how the larger environment impacts children and young adults.

Dec 10

I participated in a webinar presenting the key factors in success in Collective Impact, a term that can be lingo to some and overdone for others. United Way is a collective impact organization, and we talk about it in terms of working in partnership with others to align goals and leverage resources. Our particular interest is in resolving inequities so we can transform the lives of children, young adults, and families. There are five key elements to collective impact success, but setting common goals and building trust are key factors for that success.

In the evening, I supported Jose Cruz, Executive Director of San Diego Council on Literacy at his event honoring inductees to their Hall of Fame. One of the inductees is a longtime professional colleague – Paula Cordeiro. Congratulations, Jose, on the event and to Paula for the recognition! We are also looking at how we can partner in 2020 as we celebrate our Centennial and Read Across America/Dr. Seuss’s birthday in March.

Nancy and two women smile at an event

Dec 11

Today was about learning what’s happening in our community in the Early Childhood Learning space. This collaborative/working group is a part of San Diego Grantmakers, where we learn about each other’s work and strategize on how we can act together for positive impact.

We also connected with the Mulvaney family, longtime supporters of United Way, to talk about a blanket and towel drive for the homeless. We will partner with them and Father Joe’s Villages to distribute the items in the early part of 2020. The homeless need blankets and towels and other essentials all year round!

Dec 12

I had a chance to sit down and talk more with Elizabeth Berg, Executive Director, Wave Academy, to learn more about her professional career and the organization’s goals. It’s always exciting when you start with an organization (regardless of size) and begin to see the potential for even greater growth. Being at that cusp is exciting and frightening, but oh so rewarding when you succeed!

More holiday celebrations with Sid Voorakkara at his office downtown this evening. Great to see Sid, his wife Erin Spiewak, Nancy Jamison, Mark Dillon, Jennifer James, and Gil Cabrera! Happy Holidays to you all!

Dec 13

As we get closer and closer to all the events in our Centennial celebration, it was great to get insights from Linda Katz this morning. She is a wealth of information and an advisor extraordinaire!

Dec 16

I stopped by to celebrate the season with the American Red Cross this evening. It was my first time to the newly renovated Presidio Museum—a beautiful venue with a gorgeous view. Congratulations to Sean Mahoney, CEO, for a nice event and the ability to learn about the wide range of services provided by the American Red Cross.

Dec 17

In my quest to learn more about innovation in education, I met with Peter Zahn this morning. His work with Clairemont High School, redesigning how children learn by selecting a pillar of interest when they enter high school, is promising! The Moxie Foundation is clearly interested in learning by doing, and experiences are built into the curriculum as well.

Dec 18

I stopped by IBEW 569 to see how all the toys donated to the Holiday Toy & Food Drive (Unions United) are sorted and categorized! What an endeavor by awesome volunteers. All the toys will be distributed Friday morning, December 20, to over 650 families as well as a full holiday dinner with turkey and all the fixings!

Dec 20

Our long-lasting partnership with the Labor Council is highlighted with the annual Holiday Toy & Food Distribution. Early this morning, we all gathered at SDCCU Stadium to hand out everything you need for a full holiday meal and age-appropriate toys for the kids. Many thanks to Keith Maddox, Executive Secretary Treasurer of San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council and United Way San Diego board member, for Labor Union coordination and leadership as well as to Feeding San Diego!

Although it may be the holiday season for the remainder of the month, it doesn’t seem to slow down anymore! I hope you all were able to enjoy the time, maybe with family, maybe with friends, or maybe even the down time… See you in 2020!