Fresh Starts and New Beginnings
Sports fan? I’m a huge Texas Longhorn fan – Hook ’em! Texas played Georgia in the Sugar Bowl – aw honey, honey – and won! They came out strong and stayed strong throughout the game. What a great way to start the new year!
It’s a quiet week but what a great lunch meeting today with Jodi Jacobson, CEO of Rewire.News. My former colleague and friend, Bryan Howard, email introduced us and suggested we meet while she was in town. Jodi was visiting so she could volunteer with organizations working along the border. She loves to get outdoors as well, so there could be a hike in my future!
Week of January 7-11
This week I’m in Alexandria, VA, for the United Way Worldwide’s (UWW) New President’s Forum. It’s my opportunity to hear from the leaders at UWW about Worldwide’s direction, goals, and future. I also got to meet many of my new colleagues. We have over 1100 United Ways in this country—from 2 to 240—and over 1400 worldwide! Of course, the work and challenge can be similar but the resources available determine each local United Way’s ability to address them. We heard from Brian Gallagher, CEO, UWW, and Mary Sellers, U.S. President, UWW. A lot of discussion focused on digital strategies and brand requirements. We also spent a morning on “The Hill” talking with Congress members and their staff. We are so fortunate in CA to have support from our elected officials around education, health, and economic mobility. The common challenge we heard was making our issues relevant to the opposition, especially on the financial impact.
Have you heard about San Diego Fleet? A charter member of the Alliance of American Football, San Diego Fleet will be playing in the SDCCU stadium beginning with their first home game on Sunday, February 17. Today, Ryan Morris, Interim VP of Marketing; Alli Temnick, Senior Development Executive; and I met with representatives from the team – Justin Kirk & Carly Mitchell. We looking forward to partnering with them for team member engagement and fan participation. We also talked about hosting an event with our Emerging Leaders at the stadium. It would be a great opportunity to discuss the challenges and successes for introducing a new business to a new community, which can be an essential part of leadership!
The California Endowment hosted a meeting today in Los Angeles to discuss “Mobilizing Philanthropy for Census 2020.” Governor Newson has put additional funding into the budget to conduct the Census, but more money is needed to tally the hard-to-count populations. The Census is important to all of us because it can impact our representation in the House of Representatives. It also is used to determine funding for programs such as SNAP, Section 8 Housing, Medicare/MediCal, and Transportation. Many foundations have committed funding to support a more in-depth census count for 2020. The work needs to start now!
This afternoon, Ian Gordon, Chief Impact Officer, and I met with James Wright, CEO, Classroom of the Future Foundation, to talk about a potential partnership with United Way. CFF has piloted a project at Clairemont High School—along with the Moxie Foundation and San Diego Unified School District—to not only transform the school facility but to also change the curricula strategies. Students now select between 4 academies (Business, Engineering Design, Health & Medical Sciences, and Information Technology) where they engage in more experiential learning. Ensuring students are on a pathway for educational success is just one of the ways United Way is working in San Diego County.
That evening, a series of meetings and events took place, starting with a conversation about a possible role for United Way to play coordinating the Census efforts for San Diego County. Senator Toni Atkins staff, Pamela Ison & Chevelle Tate, spent some time with me talking about the role of the Administrative Community Based Organization (ACBO). It sounds intriguing and is a role UWSD has played in our community – convening and coordinating the efforts of a collaborative network to accomplish a common goal. More to come on this progress.
I followed that meeting with the San Diego Central Library Foundation’s reception, hosted by CEO, Jay Hill. Of course, access to books is an essential part of learning success for children. If students are not at 3rd-grade reading level by the end of the 3rd grade, they are 4 times less likely to finish high school on time!
That was immediately followed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s State of the City Address. His main points focused on housing, lifting up communities, and the environment. These points also addressed the family stability work we are doing through our Unions United program. This program provides support for food, rent, and mortgage payments as well as utility bills. We also fund our partners working throughout the County to help families access much-needed benefits, including the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). Through this work, our partners have helped bring over $40M to San Diego County families.
I caught up with Larry Kesslin, CEO, Corporate Alliance, to learn more about his idea for legacy mentoring. Connecting young adults to more seasoned professionals to mentor and learn together also supports young adults moving into college or career pathways.
Today I was meeting with Christy Rosenberg and Cheryl Moder to learn more about how they are creating a partner network for their efforts with the Accountable Communities of Health (ACH). Since our role is to bring networks together to transform shared systems, we are exploring the role United Way might have in their work.
This evening, I took our Board of Directors to dinner at Eclipse Chocolates! It was a great time for us to learn more about each other in an informal setting. I learned the following about members: one competed in rollerblading competitions (skating on railings etc.), one had a great-great-grandfather on The Titanic, one was in school in Iran the day the Iran revolution happened, one has read all the Jack Reacher series of books, and so much more.
Many thanks to my friend, Peter Callstrom, CEO, Workforce Partnership, for inviting me to participate with other CEOs to talk about issues impacting downtown. Hosted by Betsy Brennan, CEO, Downtown San Diego Partnership, and Rip Rippetoe, CEO, San Diego Convention Center, we shared ideas and concerns and heard from the Mayor’s office about his State of the City address.
Jim Woods, VP Resource Development, and I met with Dr. Bob Brower, President, Point Loma Nazarene University, to hear his perspectives on young adults, changing ideas, and the impact on the education pathway in the future. We share a common interest in ensuring our recent high school graduates are well prepared for the future they will face when they choose either college or career.
For lunch, I headed to the Educational Cultural Complex to learn about issues around homelessness and education, presented by the San Diego Community College District. We were welcomed by San Diego Community College District Chancellor, Constance M. Carroll, Ph.D., and San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) President, Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D. In 2018, 12 men were selected from the San Diego Rescue Mission to attend the SDCE campus and pursue free training programs in plumbing; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); welding; and office assistance.
Ian Gordon & I met with Omar Passons, Director of Integrative Services, HHSA, to hear how he is shaping this new role and effort. We have a mutual interest in the success of children and young adults throughout the educational pathway so they can thrive in our community. We will continue to talk about how we can integrate and align our work with theirs in the coming months.
Which, of course, means we should meet with Alethea Arguilez, Director of First 5! Alethea has an impressive background with Head Start and First 5, which gives her an excellent understanding of the needs of children as well as the non-profit service providers. As we all face funding decisions, we hope to find ways to work together to reduce duplication and to support each other’s direction.
Have you heard of Journey’s Map? It’s a technology tool that can help people figure out the pathway that will get them to their employment goals. I met with Scott Sibley and Drew Schlosberg for a demo of the tool. Information provided helps a person learn which school topics will best position them for their dream job while also giving them an idea of similar jobs. In our college-to-career readiness program, this could be a great tool for our partners to use.
A big day for me and United Way! We held our board retreat at Ashford University to talk about my vision for United Way. We talked systems, our role, and our messaging draft. You’ll hear more about our work in the days to come, but I was excited about the board engagement and participation in the discussion. This was a big step in our work to align the message, the board, the staff, and the community!
This afternoon I met with Connie Matsui, Interim CEO, San Diego Foundation, to tell her about our alignment work and get her feedback. She has some great perspectives on where we can play a role, especially as it relates to families and children and how they can thrive in our community!
As I continue to listen to people in our community talk about United Way’s role, I enjoyed meeting up with Jim Floros, CEO, Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. Jim has a long history with United Way, and it was great to get both the history and his perspective. He always sparks my innovative thoughts about how to partner with education success and food insecurities…
This evening I attended the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Business Mixer hosted by our new football team – San Diego Fleet! We got down on the field and enjoyed great company and good food. Alicia Quinn, VP of New Business Strategies, attended with me as we continue to explore ways to partner with San Diego Fleet, much like United Ways partner with the NFL in other cities. My goal: meet Hines Ward! I have always loved his smile…
I spent the day in Riverside at the gorgeous Mission Inn for the United Ways of California statewide meeting. Hosted by Pete Manzo, Director of United Way of California, we heard about the national and state strategies, learned from each other how to respond to disasters when you and your staff are also experiencing that disaster, and how to diversify the ways we conduct our fundraising efforts. It was great to meet my colleagues in the State.
Torrey Albertazzi, Senior Impact Manager, Ian Gordon, Chief Impact Officer, and I met with Rob Podlogar, CEO, Siemer Institute, to find out about their current funding strategies. United Way had a partnership with Siemer a few years ago, and we are exploring ways to partner again! Siemer is strategic about multi-generational strategies to address student mobility—hopefully, reducing the need to change schools—and educational success.
That evening I caught up with Nelli Garton, Founder of Tablecloth, a company that uses real-time software for impact, measurement, and evaluation. Given the role that the collection and analysis of data will play in United Way’s future efforts, it is important that we also know what is already taking place in our community that will inform future partnerships.
Many thanks to United Way board member Dr. Wendy Hunter and her husband, Greg Hunter, CEO, Hunter Industries (a long time United Way workplace campaign partner) for opening their home for our first community salon. In my effort to align our work at United Way, I believe it is also important to listen to the community and get feedback along the way. We rolled out our vision, mission, role, and work along with draft messaging to this small but very engaged group. I look forward to hearing from more community members throughout the month of February.