Nancy’s Blog: January 2020

Nancy stands in front of Red Cross event wallpaper

January felt like a blur, packed with events, meetings, and lots of planning for our upcoming Centennial Celebration on 10/10/20. Along with the ongoing Census 2020 work and the important efforts of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition, I’ve been appreciating the longtime collaboration we’ve enjoyed with our community partners, including 2-1-1. A resource and information hub, 2-1-1 has long been key to United Way’s success. You’ll be hearing more about other essential partners we’ve “grown up with” and “how we met” as we continue to host monthly events leading up to October’s Gala. Our celebration will also honor those groups and individuals who were instrumental in helping us improve lives across the region for 100 years.


Jan 6: We have been awarded a contract through United Ways of California to conduct a landscape survey of San Diego County with regards to kinship caregiving. As a result, I have hired Raquel Pfeifer as our project manager to conduct this survey. Kinship caregiving refers to those kids who are being cared for by relatives or by people who are close family friends or “fictive kin.” The Y is doing a lot of work in this area, as is the County Health & Human Services. I’m looking forward to where this exploration might lead us, especially as it relates to how well these kids succeed on the learning and education pathway.

Jan 8: I caught up with Rob Atterbury to learn more about ConnectEd and the work he is doing across the state. Focusing and connecting kids to their strengths early in their education may help them achieve better outcomes later along the education pathway. I’m really curious how this and the R.I.A.S.E.C. work will impact children and young adults!

As a board member for 2-1-1 San Diego, we are deep into the work of determining our strategic direction. I’m looking forward to our celebration on Feb 11 (2/11)! Led by CEO John Ohanian and consultant Paul Van Dolah, we are in good hands!

Jan 9: It is always a pleasure to capture some time with Cindy Marten, Superintendent of SDUSD! Today our conversation helped me shape the language we can use to work together to achieve common goals and to have a perspective of what’s working in order to impact what needs to be bolstered and supported.

Deep into our work leading the coalition on Census 2020, Michele Silverthorn, Shannon Gonzalez, and I met with Sonya Logman from Governor Newsom’s office and Connie Hernandez, Census 2020. Of course, we talked about how we are managing to get the work done knowing we don’t have enough money to do it all, but we also talked about lessons learned. Better coordination of information is always helpful, as is having a clear idea of how to communicate findings that are different from the original assumptions. For example, census tracts with the hard-to-count populations were identified from the 2010 census; however, some of those populations have moved since then!

Jan 10: Lunch with Claire Groebner is something I look forward to when it is on my calendar! Her work at Olivewood Gardens is taking off as they celebrate their 10th anniversary. Check out their events and learn more about healthy eating, garden growing, and everything in-between. Food insecurity is a problem in San Diego when 1 out of 5 people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. But even if you have access to food, ensuring you are eating the right foods is critical to your long-term health.

Jan 11: Congratulations to a longtime friend and colleague, John Fanestil, who’s taking on the Executive Director role with Via International and is excited about expanding their programs. Today many of us gathered in Barrio Logan to welcome him on board.

Jan 13: This morning I stopped by to welcome our spring interns who will be working with schools to address chronic absenteeism. Building connections and trust with the students, their families, and their teachers is critical to addressing the underlying reasons why a child misses school. Many thanks to Impact Manager Nina Ghatan for leading this effort for UWSD.

Jan 14: Last year I created the Kearny Mesa Nonprofit CEO breakfast group when I recognized the number of nonprofits in this area! This morning we met at 2-1-1, hosted by John Ohanian. Sharing highlights and challenges as well as discussing community topics helps build connections among us in many ways!

Jan 15: Many thanks to San Diego Grantmakers and Megan Thomas for hosting a panel to talk about Census 2020. I was honored to join Rebekah Hook-Held, San Diego LGBT Center; Herminia Ledesma, Vista Community Clinic; and Diana Ross, Mid-City CAN, as we talked about how philanthropy can support the work of the census.

Jan 16: It’s here! Today we held the kick-off event for our Centennial year! Many thanks to the staff who helped put this together, especially Alicia Quinn and Leigh Harris – although there were many others on the event committee! We highlighted the past and honored those who helped build the foundation on which we stand to move into the next century. The best part was seeing people talk with people they worked with in the past but hadn’t seen in the years since. Past CEOs, past board members, past staff, and longtime supporters joined us at the San Diego History Center!

Jan 17: 35th annual MLK Human Dignitary Awards were held at the Town & Country Resort Hotel this morning. Hundreds of people were in attendance as we all celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King and recognized those who have upheld his values through their work.

Jan 18: More celebrations— this time to celebrate the New Year. The Karen Organization held their celebration at Horace Mann Elementary School. Both formal and informal ceremonies were held in recognition of the New Year and included a delicious lunch. The second celebration was the Chinese New Year at SDCCU Stadium parking lot. Dragon dances, performances, traditional ceremonial displays, and lots of food helped to kick off the Year of the Rat!

Jan 21: It’s always fun to learn about the dreams different organizations have to impact our community in a positive way. Listening to the dreams of Dreams for Change gives me hope that fewer people will have food insecurity and new revenue streams can be created. Stay tuned for Teresa Smith, CEO, and Kelly Spoon, Development & Fundraising, for future announcements that will help address the needs of the food insecure and small business!

I also met with Ramla Sahid, PANA; Nao Kabashima, Karen Organization; and Amina Sheikh Mohamed, UCSD, to talk about their efforts to strengthen their work in the community. We also had a chance to talk about partnerships within the Southeast San Diego Promise Zone and the important work happening there.

Jan 22: Our annual board retreat focused on our role as a transformational leader in our community. Clarifying what this means while staying focused on the Education and Learning Pathway, as well as Family Stability, will unfold in the coming weeks. What an exciting time for United Way and for me! Recently, I saw a graph from the National Center for Education Statistics showing that improvements in third grade reading levels and eighth grade math have only slightly improved since 2003. San Diego Unified School District, when compared to other large cities, is doing better than most. However, within the statistics, it shows that Latino children fall well behind their White counterparts and that those eligible for school lunch programs fall significantly behind those who are not eligible. The gap between the two groups has not changed significantly since 2003!

I also spent some time at Partnerships with Industry and CEO Rich Israel. It was good to see their impact on workforce development with their special needs clients. Changing regulations will require them to have less in-house opportunities and more worksite placements thus impacting those who are more successful at their site.

I continue to be as involved as possible with the San Diego Impact Investors Network committee of San Diego Grantmakers. Today we were discussing how we can incorporate the opportunity to launch the ImPower Initiative in San Diego County. This will be some exciting work ahead in addition to the Women’s Empowerment Loan Fund.

For a few months, I’ve tried attend the Early Childhood Mental Health Leaders collaborative meeting. I was excited to join the group with some stellar leaders participating from our community! Many thanks to Dr. Pradeep Gidwani and Dr. Jeff Rowe for convening this group to discuss how we can ensure that children in our community have the best opportunities to have a healthy start, including a healthy mental health start. The group has published position papers to ensure children’s interests are at the forefront in a variety of situations. I look forward to continuing to participate in this discussion.

One of our longest running collaborative groups is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition. Since 2003, United Way, in partnership with the County Health & Human Services and the IRS, has convened 20+ partners throughout the county to provide free tax assistance. 2-1-1 is an integral partner in assisting interested clients in finding convenient locations for these services. Last year, we assisted over 33,000 people. We were able to bring back over $47M in federal and state refunds, of which, $15M was attributed to EITC! Our goal is to exceed those numbers this year! This morning, we held a press conference at 2-1-1 announcing the launch of the service for this tax season.

I ended the day at SAY San Diego exploring the possibility of creating a group of nonprofit leaders to address policy issues impacting our ability to provide effective and efficient services as well those policies that impact our business models. Many thanks to SAY San Diego CEO Nancy Hornberger for bringing this group together. We look forward to continued discussions and adding more interested leaders to the group. If you are interested in getting in on the ground floor with this group, contact Nancy at SAY San Diego.

Jan 24: United Way of San Diego County and National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) have decided to partner to submit a coordinated and collaborative proposal to San Diego County Health & Human Services for their latest Live Well proposal in the Southeast San Diego Promise Zone. I am so excited to be working in partnership with NCRC and the other 35 partners to create a proposal that works in alignment with the existing Promise Zone. Our partnership meeting this morning clarified our roles and responsibilities. Thanks, Bridget Lambert and Kathryn Shade, NCRC, for your leadership and partnership! And I couldn’t do this without UWSD’s Ian Gordon, Chief Impact Officer!

In the afternoon, I moderated a panel discussion on employee volunteer engagement and board service at the USD Governance Symposium. Many thanks to my panel participants, Jacob Richards, California Bank & Trust; Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive; Alicia Quinn, VP New Business Strategies, UWSD; Christina Hastings, Zovio and Women United Chair; and Pedro Villegas, SDG&E. Each of the panelists presented information about how their organization supports volunteerism and board service. UWSD talked about our new board service certification partnership with USD to support capacity building for our nonprofit community as well as our Corporate Social Responsibility efforts to link employee/individual volunteerism with our community’s needs.

I ended my day celebrating the 5-year anniversary of Zero8Hundred. United Way was one of the initial supporters of this effort when the idea was sparked by Representative Scott Peters as a way to assist veterans as they transitioned out of the military into civilian life and jobs. Their success over the last 5 years is impressive! Congratulations to their first CEO, Sean Mahoney, and their current CEO, Stephanie Kiesel.

Jan 27: Building professional colleagues is an important part of developing as a leader. I’m grateful for the camaraderie I have with Anne McEnany, Sarah Lyman, Christy Wilson, Mark Stuart, Debbie McKeon, and Beth Sirull. Dinner tonight was great as we talked about the one word that described how we were feeling. That sparked more conversation!

Jan 29: As we celebrate our Centennial anniversary, it is so much fun learning about our past! This morning, I met with a former VP of Development, Bette Hoffman, and longtime supporter and community volunteer, Linda Katz. I learned about some of our past successes and activities to recognize longtime donors. Bette is a wealth of knowledge and a real joy to talk with.

For lunch at Mister A’s, John Ohanian and I met with Jim Mulvaney, whose family has been supporters of United Way for decades, particularly through the efforts of Jim Mulvaney, Sr. He was chair of the board of our United Way, the national board, and the international board. In fact, he is attributed as having turned around the international effort! Thanks, Jim, for your family support and for the chocolate chip cookies…

Jan 30: Catching up with Elly Brown and the San Diego Food System Alliance was informative as I learned about the breadth of their work: cultivating a healthy, sustainable, and just food system in San Diego County with over 150 groups.

I was honored to be recognized as one of the top 500 leaders in San Diego County by the San Diego Business Journal, which hosted a cocktail reception for all who were recognized. The difference with this honor is that winners are not nominated; they’re selected by the newspaper. What a tremendous honor and quite a surprise!