September 14, 2017

From Nancy Sasaki, Executive Director – August was hot, hot, hot, and we’re not just talking about the salsa from Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center! It was a warm one out there, but not so warm that we couldn’t get out to visit with our community partners to see what they’re working on. One theme that will jump out at you in this recap is how much wonderful work is being done in the area of food systems in San Diego and Imperial Counties. In addition, we wanted to thank everyone who took our 2017 Community Survey, which recently closed. Your feedback provided invaluable insights about how we can better meet the health and wellness needs in the communities we serve. Thank you!

August 7: It was great to catch up with Anna Hoff who used to lead the Text4baby initiative. As one of two recipients of our first Innovation Initiative awards, Anna took the reins under Barbara Mandel, Executive Director, at Champions for Health. She then moved the effort to a statewide challenge to embed Text4baby in the state contracts for community clinics and other prenatal healthcare providers! Text4baby expanded methods of education and outreach with an app and then merged with ZERO TO THREE. That’s definitely a shortened version of the work but it’s always good to catch up with Anna to see how this project has progressed.

Following my meet up with Anna, I had an afternoon break with Momentum President Deirdre Maloney. I first met Deirdre when she provided a training for young professionals who were interested in serving on boards. Since that time I have heard of her work in the community, and I was looking forward to touching base with her again. She’s focusing on working with nonprofits to build strong teams, ensure successful onboarding of leaders and management teams, and identifying communication styles for more effective work.

At the end of the day, Michele and I were humbled to be included in a conversation about a very sensitive community issue. Although I can’t say more about it, we were reminded that there are communities of people in San Diego County who are not treated well as they try to establish their lives and provide for their families.

August 8: It’s always good to talk with people who are providing services in our community about the various types of grants we offer. Michele and I always welcome these calls so we can talk about projects and interests and how they may or may not align with our funding goals. Today I talked with Len Gutman at the American Heart Association about some of their upcoming projects.

In the late afternoon, Michele and I met up with some of our colleagues at the San Diego Grantmakers Summer Social. Thanks to Nancy Jamison and her staff at San Diego Grantmakers for the fun reception! Sometimes you just get to have some idle conversation with people, but this evening I had a great time talking at length with Warren Ruiz and Penney Newell at Sempra Energy. At least I drive a Prius because they are certainly all about energy! But we also had a good time talking about some of the other issues we face in our community.

August 9: Congratulations to Margaret Iwanaga-Penrose from the Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC) for their new Kitchen Creations! I attended the open house today and heard from Chief Shelley Zimmerman and others about the excitement of this new kitchen. Working with their Noble Works program, the kitchen will provide an opportunity for job training and food production for sale in the cafe and area markets. Thanks to the Tran family for making the space available and to the County of San Diego Behavioral Health Services for helping to fund the project.

Michele wrapped up the six week Finance Fundamentals webinar series for our grantees. Over the six weeks the San Diego grantees gathered in person and Imperial county joined via GoToMeeting to take an in-depth look at all things finance. The favorite session and infographic for the series was this one that helped illustrate what truly is liquid and what is not (the rocks = property & equipment/ net assets.) Thanks to the Nonprofit Finance Fund for an excellent web series!

Aug 10: The Imperial Valley Continuum of Care continues to grow in number and in infrastructure. Today they were discussing the upcoming HUD grant and other grants that will be available to the community. Their growth has positioned them to be eligible to apply for these funds with a stronger proposal than in the past. They are also looking to meet the challenge of implementing the Coordinated Entry System (CES) by the 2018 deadline.

I also met with Greg McKee, CEO of CONNECT, to debrief about the work they coordinated for our five Innovation Initiative finalists. Overall the assessment was excellent! Greg also invited me to talk to their board about our partnership and the future potential for more work together.

Michele met with Director Elly Brown and Executive Committee member Naomi Billups of the San Diego Food Systems Alliance this morning. Elly and Naomi shared updates and their current direction for the multi-sector collaborative (100+groups!) addressing disparities in the food system as well as the need to preserve the food system resources including farming, fisheries, and food waste. They will be hosting their third Food Waste Summit on Tuesday, September 26.

L to R: Duke Sobek, Vice President of Facilities; Michele Silverthorn; Dwight Smith, General Counsel; Kristine Smith, Director of Nutrition

Aug 11
: One of our Program Related Investments provided a loan to Neighborhood House Association to complete Phase II of their central kitchen. Michele and I met up with Kristine Smith, Director of Nutrition, and other staff members to take a tour of the construction site. We also toured the kitchen area, watched them pack up a nutritious snack, and we even got to taste their freshly made hummus—cilantro, sweet potato, and garlic. I think my favorite was cilantro!

Aug 16: Many thanks to Greg McKee, CEO of CONNECT, for the invitation to talk about our partnership with his board this evening. Going in bold—meaning no power point presentation—I enjoyed relaying the history of our Innovation Initiative and how we used a business plan consultant. Our partnership with CONNECT also included Mission Edge and Impact Without Borders in order to use the strengths of each and support what exists in our community. CONNECT acted as a coordinator, the mentor provider, the infrastructure, and the business planner in this four-way partnership. The end result was improved presentations and a few tweaks for next year!

Aug 17: Sometimes a proposal is brought forward that has a few options for how we might be able to support it. So for lunch today I met with Maggie Hannegan from the San Ysidro Health Center to talk about those options. It was great to hear more about the wide variety of services they are providing for their clients.

Aug 18: I ended today catching up with Alberto Cortez, CEO of Mama’s Kitchen. It is always great to just bounce ideas and thoughts back and forth.

Prem Durairaj

With so much work happening around food systems and the multitude of organizations involved, Michele followed up with Prem Durairaj, Food Systems and Research Director at Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP), to understand more about the many food system assessments that are taking place in San Diego and where CHIP fits together within the system.

Aug 19: Sometimes it’s fun to introduce my friends to some of the amazing organizations we work with. On Saturday, Olivewood Gardens hosted a Salsa and Salsa class—a bit of salsa dancing coupled with making salsa! There were five different types of salsas and each of us chose the salsa we wanted to make. Then we all sat down for a delicious meal and sampled of all the newly made salsas!

Aug 21: Monday, Monday – why not end the day with a San Diego Impact Investors Network happy hour? Thanks to Nancy Jamison, CEO & staff at San Diego Grantmakers for putting it together at the rooftop bar at the Andaz Hotel. It was great to catch up with Nelli Garton and Alicia Quinn!

Aug 23: As part of another link in the food system, Michele met with Blanca Melendrez and Elle Mari from the UC San Diego Center for Community Health to get an update on the Urban Growers Collaboration Feasibility Analysis. In the end the project is working to bring fresh produce to identified “food desert” areas of San Diego county via smaller markets and liquor stores.

Aug 24: Today I got to learn more about the work at UC San Diego Center for Community Health with Blanca Melendrez, Amina Sheik Mohamed, and Lizzy Cooper. Mostly we talked about the Youth Advisory Council and how these young people are working to change policy for better health and other topics.

I also talked to Karen Strazza at RTI International. They are working for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to learn about what communities are doing to create a culture of health. Wow, great timing with our Live Well and Accountable Communities for Health work happening in San Diego County!

Shaina Gross

Aug 25:  What a great way to end the week—with an afternoon cruise on the bay! This was a very relaxing and fun way to welcome Shaina Gross as the new CEO of Susan G. Komen San Diego. Former CEO Laura Sherman Farmer made the transition a reality by pinning Shaina with her new name tag and literally passing the baton. Congratulations Shaina!

Michele spent the afternoon at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center getting the full in-depth tour and overview of their programming. Today was Executive Director Healy Vigderson’s last day, and she was working hard to download all she has learned and created over the last five years with Interim Assistant Directors Claire Groebner and Cherianne Kestner. If you know of anyone looking to take the helm, check out the job listing.

Aug 28: Senior Director of Programs Michele Silverthorn, Communications Manager Jonathan Dale, Office Manager Bryan Fisher, and I met up for the soft opening of Snooze in La Jolla. What an awesome way to support the San Diego Food Bank! The food was on the house and the “tip” went to the Food Bank. See? Monday’s aren’t so bad!

Aug 30: There are times in your life where a situation brings about an aha moment. I had one of those today while meeting with a young woman and discussing her career plans. The aha moment was one where I realized I have enough experience now that I can be a mentor! My reaction was a mix of satisfaction and “Uh oh…I’m getting old!”

This afternoon I was filmed for a video that Andy Ballester, Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego member, is putting together to tell the story about why Housing First and community standards are important in our work to end homelessness. He and his crew are filming others in our community to get their perspectives as well. Can’t wait to see the final product!

Michele headed over to the brand-new Step Cardiac Wellness Center in the Jacobs Medical Center for a sneak peak tour. The state of the art center is lead by Dr. Pam Taub and she has a real vision for creating a great space!

Aug 31: Before lunch Michele met with newly appointed Reality Changers Director of Advancement Lauren Tullis. Lauren has a fascinating background with great knowledge in social enterprise, perfect for their newly launched College Apps Academy.

At lunch we celebrated the upcoming marriage of Nancy Jamison and Mark Dillon with San Diego Grantmakers, The California Endowment, and Alliance Healthcare Foundation. Good food, fun and games, and great company! We also celebrated my belated birthday!

After that I met with Miyoko Oshima from the Vesper Society. Although the Vesper Society is from the Bay Area, they are funding and doing work in Imperial County. It is always great to talk with her about their work and what they are learning about the needs in the community.

Have questions or comments about AHF in the community?

Contact Executive Director Nancy Sasaki or Senior Director of Programs Michele Silverthorn to learn more about AHF in the community and how we work to advance health and wellness.

Upcoming Events on the AHF Community Calendar

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