The more visits I make around our county, the more I realize the variety of resources we share and the number of opportunities we have to collaborate on behalf of our community. So many innovative ideas are coming out of San Diego organizations that want more for our region’s future, just as United Way does. I can’t wait to work together with these CEOs and their businesses, foundations, nonprofits, and school districts to align ideas and leverage resources on behalf of local children, young adults, and families. Together, we’ll transform lives!
Today I got sent to the Superintendent’s office! But I wasn’t in trouble – instead, Ian Gordon, Chief Impact Officer and I met with Superintendent Dr. Linda Kimble and Assistant Superintendent Matt Doyleat Vista Unified School District (VUSD) to talk about their idea to create a community learning center in their district. United Way may play a role in aligning community partners and leverage investments to impact early childhood success in VUSD.
A fellow United Way colleague, CEO Lisa Wright, United Way of Inland Valleys, came down to San Diego to learn more about our work – both as an individual United Way and as a neighbor United Ways. Lisa is 3 years into her role and has had an impact in their workplace giving campaigns by integrating their family stability work (EITC) with their workplace campaigns. She is also working with all 11 school districts in her area. I have much to learn from all my colleagues at United Way.
It has been a long time since I last saw Duane Trombley. We met for breakfast to talk about his work with the “Keep Kids Safe” program with the Safe Homes Coalition. This program is starting a door-to-door effort to reduce child access to drugs. I shared with Duane that it took me over a year to properly dispose of the drugs given to me when I broke 2 ribs because the dates and times of the twice-a-year programs didn’t work for me. Also, I learned that all CVS stores should have a box for disposing of these drugs – yet I hadn’t seen it at my CVS!
Have you heard of the Sisu Academy? I learned more about it and unique fundraising ideas by meeting with Jabez LeBret. In the throes of starting this new school concept, he is also recognizing the need to address other areas such as housing, human trafficking, food insecurity, and mental health. It makes me think United Way could play a role in bringing the various systems together to align our impact and leverage investments.
Brian Gallagher, CEO, United Way Worldwide, was in Mexico to learn through community partners in Tijuana about how migrants are coping with the situation along the border. We used it as an opportunity to host a breakfast for cross-sectional representatives to talk about how they are working on this side of the border and the challenges they face trying to coordinate efforts on both sides of the border. United Way of San Diego County has an interest in this area primarily because the children who are released on this side of the border could eventually enter our education system. Enabling early childhood success must also address the trauma of the children’s stories to ensure that their experience on the education pathway is as smooth as possible.
Continuing to learn about the impact of trauma on children and young adults, I attended the Philanthropy Roundtable hosted by The San Diego Foundation (Interim CEO Connie Matsui), Health & Human Services (Director Nick Machionne), and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative (Chelsea Clinton). The most impactful moment was hearing stories from two young adults about their path to building a successful life following years of trauma and poor choices. For each of them it was the nonprofit organization and the persistence of the staff that made a difference in their ability to see how they could change their path. They also had something in their lives that made them want to change – a daughter for one and a hopeful younger sister for the other. United Way is always looking for organizations in our community that are impacting children and young adults and to hear about their success along the education pathway.
I started this morning at KUSI for an interview with Bill York, Executive VP at 2-1-1 San Diego. We were talking about the start of tax season and the availability of Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and benefits sites throughout the county. Last year, 61 sites assisted 31,000 residents obtain over $40M in refunds! This year we hope to help even more. If you think you might be eligible, call 211 to find out and to set an appointment. You can also check out myfreetaxes.org for free tax assistance.
Late afternoon I had a chance to meet up with Lenise Andrade, nonprofit consultant and presenter. I’ve known Lenise for quite some time but haven’t had the chance to catch up with her goals and expertise. We talked a lot about changes in fundraising and how it’s impacting nonprofits.
United Way’s Ian Gordon, Chief Impact Officer, and Tia Anzellotti, VP of Partnerships—along with many partner organizations hosted the second Regional Impact Summit at the North Inland Live Well Center. This meeting followed up on the first summit in 2018, where community partners talked about moving their collective work forward. This year, partners discussed the need to raise the bar in order to think at the systems level to craft an approach that addresses education gaps in our community.
I met with Bob Copeland at SheppardMullin today to learn more about the work he’s doing with the Thomas C. Ackerman Foundation. Bob was able to catch me up on their history with United Way while I talked about our current role. We may be able to find ways to partner on K-12 education issues in the future.
With all this work, sometimes we all should take a break and celebrate with a little fun. Staff put together a cookie-decorating opportunity for employees to try their skills at icing heart-shaped cookies. I believe they were supposed to be taken home to a loved one – but I think most people just ate them!
I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new LGBT Community Center in Chula Vista today. Providing a space for people in the LGBT community to go for camaraderie, education, support, and services has been long planned for the South Bay area. Congratulations to CEO Cara Dessert for this accomplishment!
I’m continuing to get to know my colleagues in United Way, so today I met with CEO Elise Buik at United Way Los Angeles and CEO Sue Parks, United Way Orange County. The meeting was coordinated by Pete Manzo, United Ways of CA. I learned a lot about how they run their workplace campaigns, how they’re looking at larger investment opportunities for donors, as well as their thoughts about events and working together. Although we are each focused on our own communities, we did agree to keep each other up-to-date on local events so we can support each other’s efforts.
It was great to hear Heather Martin, board member at Edwards Mother Earth Foundation, and Nick Flores, The Caprock Group, talk about the Foundation’s journey into impact investing and how they partnered with The Caprock Group to invest 100% of its endowment in climate solutions. As United Way explores the diversity of ways to give, we‘re interested in learning more about impact investing.
That evening Peter Zahn, Rachel Zahn, and Ellen Waddell with the Moxie Foundation hosted the Ashoka fellows at Duke’s in La Jolla. It was great to see so many providers and philanthropists in the room to learn about the changemaker fellows and their work. These fellows are focusing on building the will and the way to rewire systems and structures for social impact.
My first stop today was to welcome CEO Peter Callstrom and his staff at San Diego Workforce Partnerships to their new digs in Kearny Mesa — they are neighbors now! Their beautiful new space provides the room they need, at a rate that is less than before, and offers a large meeting space as well. They also launched their new logo and website. Congratulations and welcome!
Later I attended the San Diego Grantmakers’ meeting of the Early Childhood Collaborative. Chaired by Judy McDonald, the participants are all interested in the best practices to ensure children are better prepared when they enter kindergarten. Members present were Shana Hazan, Sandra Timmons, Katie Rast, Connie Matsui, David Lynn, Alethia Arguilez, and Megan Thomas (SDG&E).
That evening was the San Diego Impact Investors Network Steering Committee meeting. Chaired by Nelli Garton and led by Director Robert Foster, the group explores ways to connect investors throughout the County as well as provide meaningful educational sessions for all. The network is excited to launch the Women’s Empowerment Fund soon to support low-income women as they start and sustain their own small businesses.
Jim Woods, VP of Resource Development, and I met with Jennifer Habig, CEO at Center for Creative Learning. We explored ways we could strengthen the longtime workplace campaign to better meet the needs of their employees. Their focus on health and biotech may provide a clear opportunity to provide both employee engagement and giving.
I’m always interested in conversations around the County that provide different perspectives into our diverse communities. This afternoon I attended the “Black Excellence in Public Service” seminar hosted by Jack & Jill, Inc. Dr. Shirley Weber kicked off the event. What an impressive panel of speakers: Genevieve Jones-Wright, Deputy Public Defender; Monica Montgomery, Councilmember City of San Diego; Omar Passons, Director of Integrative Services, County of San Diego; and Dr. Akilah Weber, Councilmember, City of La Mesa. They spoke primarily as role models to the young people in the audience, encouraging them to persevere even when others tell them they can’t achieve their goals.
Lane Kiefaber, Red to Black, reached out after hearing my presentation at the North County Philanthropy Council earlier in February. As a consultant, she is interested in nonprofit solutions and partnered with the United Way in Orange County to create the OC Reads program. To launch this program, she needed to bring together various community leaders and set the goals that have continued today.
Ian Gordon, Chief Impact Officer, and I met with Dr. Constance Carroll, Chancellor, San Diego Community College District, to talk about how we can partner together. We have been working with her and her team to build a pathway for community college students into careers. These discussions include paid internships and partnerships with San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp (EDC) and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. It was a great opportunity for us to explore ways to build youth success towards college and career pathways.
I also joined the steering committee of our Women United group to talk about our recent community listening work and the subsequent messaging. Chaired by Christina Hastings, Director, Corporate Communications, Bridgepoint Education, this group mobilizes the power of women to improve lives in our community.
Community Health Consultant Dr. Bud Beck is a pillar in our community and has been active in all things health related for many years! It was a privilege to have him join us at a community listening salon recently and to continue that conversation this morning. It was a great conversation and Bud had great advice about reducing redundancies in our community.