Susan Howe: Women’s Foundation president

Scripps Ranch resident Susan Howe is the president of the San Diego Women’s Foundation.

Susan Howe: Women’s Foundation president

After serving as a member of the San Diego Women’s Foundation (SDWF) for a decade, and being on its board for six years, Scripps Ranch resident Susan Howe recently took the helm when she was appointed president of the foundation.

Howe said her many years of experience with the organization, along with her lifelong membership in the Junior League of San Diego, her time at Scripps College and her role as founding member of the Hidden Valley House Auxiliary, have given her an appreciation for the power that women have when they work together to achieve common goals.

“My membership in SDWF builds on those experiences and allows me an opportunity to work with an amazing group of women who share my interest in learning about the issues affecting our community and pooling our philanthropic dollars for maximum benefit in the community,” she said.

Howe said her first two months as president – she assumed the role on July 1 – have been both busy and rewarding. She said that at the foundation’s annual Grants Celebration in June, it was announced that this year’s grants will focus on programs that provide basic needs and transition services to individuals currently in San Diego County with refugee, asylum seeker or asylee status.

“SDWF members don’t shy away from challenging issues,” Howe said. “Other recent focus areas have included programs to combat human trafficking and to support homeless youth.”

Last month the foundation held a Grants Kick-off event to educate its members and the community about the issues facing refugees, asylum seekers and asylees, all of whom face tremendous challenges to become self-sufficient in a new country, she said.

Howe said the SDWF was formed in 2000 by a small group of San Diego volunteers who envisioned an organization that would promote the participation and leadership of women in philanthropy. The group, inspired by collective giving circles formed in other states, founded the SDWF to strengthen and improve women’s capacities to engage in significant philanthropy in San Diego, she said.

“Women make the majority of philanthropic decisions in our country, so it’s especially important for women to have an opportunity to team up with like-minded women to learn and become better philanthropists,” she said. “The organization is comprised of smart, well-informed women who are committed to improving our community while having fun doing it.”

Howe said the SDWF is currently comprised of 220 members from all over the county. The fasted growing segments of their membership are the under-40 young philanthropists and women who are in the prime of their careers, she said.

Howe said it is a member driven organization that utilizes the democratic process of one member, one vote. The members work together to decide where to invest more than $200,000 in grant funding each year. Howe said the SDWF has invested more than $3.5 million in 96 nonprofit programs since it was founded almost 20 years ago.

Some things the foundation is working to do include looking for ways to diversify the membership and involve a broader cross section of women throughout San Diego; boosting the social media profile to reach women who might not have heard about the foundation; and developing partnerships with other women’s professional and industry associations to grow leadership opportunities and work together to improve their community, Howe said.

Howe, a married mother of three and grandmother of five, retired five years ago from the San Diego Public Library Foundation as the major and planned gifts director. When she’s not volunteering for the SDWF she enjoys gardening, quilting, fly-fishing, golfing with friends and visiting her grandchildren on the East Coast, she said.

Howe said it’s a tremendous honor to serve as president of the SDWF, especially as the foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary and launching a strategic plan to guide the organization for the next five years and beyond.

She said her goal as president is to recognize and thank the founders and all current and past members for their role in the foundation’s success.

“Thanks to our members, SDWF is well-positioned to establish itself as a philanthropic leader in the region,” Howe said.

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