Entries in Development (6)


National AIDS Memorial Grove 

It is with great pleasure that I share news that I have joined the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park as Director of Development. I am absolutely thrilled to return to the park where my career as a frontline fundraiser began at the California Academy of Sciences. In addition, my return feels like a full-circle homecoming, as I served on the Grove’s board of directors from 2011 to 2015, co-chaired World AIDS Day in 2012 and 2013, served as board secretary, communications committee chair, and I contributed significantly to the the strategic planning process during my years of service as a volunteer.

It's great to be back to a place that I adore and to an organization that has already contributed tremendously to my professional development. I'm also excited to spread my wings as a Development Director and to strengthen the Grove's vibrant culture of philanthropy. It's the 25th silver anniversary of this national treasure and I'm eager to apply my professional focus toward its next chapter of growth, inspired by the healing power of nature and the leadership of supporters and volunteers from across the nation. 

The mission of the National AIDS Memorial Grove is to provide, in perpetuity, a place of remembrance so that the lives of people who died from AIDS are not forgotten and the story is known by future generations.

The idea for the National AIDS Memorial was first conceived in 1988 by a small group of San Francisco residents representing a community devastated by the AIDS epidemic, but with no positive way to express their collective grief. The group selected the de Laveaga Dell in world-renowned Golden Gate Park as the site for their memorial, an area that had fallen into a state of disrepair and was unusable by the public due to poor funding in the park budget. A team of prominent landscape architects and designers volunteered countless hours to create a landscape plan that would be fitting as a timeless living memorial. Site renovation began in September 1991 and ongoing maintenance and improvements continue each year. The site is the location of the National Observation of World AIDS Day annually on December 1.

Landmark Designation

In October 1996, through the passage of legislation spearheaded by Representative Nancy Pelosi, President Bill Clinton signed the National AIDS Memorial Grove Act, which recognized and designated the site as a National Memorial of the United States; a status comparable to that of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Mount Rushmore, and the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, among others.

Civic Ecology

Since my early interest and involvement, I’ve been drawn to thinking about the Grove from the perspective of the emerging field of civic ecology, which recognizes that it’s impossible to separate humans from nature. Civic ecologists examine how people in urban environments are caring for—restoring and stewarding—local natural resources. However, civic ecology practices are not just about caring for nature; they are also about caring for neighborhoods and healing communities, particularly in the aftermath of disasters and tragedies. The Grove, in my view, is a perfect case study in demonstrating the transformation of a physical and spiritual landscape. The Grove reflects my view that as places are defined by special people; people are defined by special places.

Join us!

I invite you to join me in spreading the word about this national landmark: 'Like' us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, donate, volunteer, sign-up for updates, or find more information about how you can get involved on our website:

Best of all, I invite you to visit the Grove and explore it for yourself!


Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE)

As a nonprofit professional, I do my best to learn about how to be an effective fundraiser beyond my own role managing a team that works with families, corporations, foundations, and government agencies.

I’m genuinely curious about other areas of my field and how all of the parts of an entrepreneurial, ethical, and effective fundraising program come together to strategically advance the mission of an organization.

I’m also interested in learning as much as I can about how to connect with donors, individually and institutionally. Today, I gained recognition as a Certified Fund Raising Executive, CFRE.

CFRE certification confirms my knowledge of the highest standards of professional competence and ethical practice in serving the philanthropic sector. It’s also a public statement to donors and colleagues that I care about fundraising as a profession and that I’m personally inspired to uphold its integrity.

The certification requires passage of the exam, in addition to a professional panel review of my continuing education, years of experience, fundraising performance, and service as a volunteer. CFRE is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, NCCA.

Last October, I participated in a two-day CFRE Prep Course with the Association of Fundraising ProfessionalsCalifornia Capital Chapter. At the Sierra Healthcare Foundation in Sacramento, I studied each module with the highest caliber of experienced faculty.

I’m thankful for the many new colleagues I now have in my network as a result, too! Working in the field of philanthropy and in the voluntary sector is truly its own reward.

Download the press release to learn more. 


Giving Tuesday

I first heard about Giving Tuesday from Rob Reich, one of my former colleagues from the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and an advisor to the group that is trying to start this philanthropic movement.

The premise is simple: Giving Tuesday is meant to sit in contrast to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and to emphasize the spirit of gratitude and generosity that are much more a part of the holiday season than is consumerism.

On Tuesday November 27, 2012 charities, families, businesses and individuals are coming together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

I am excited to see what can come of this idea, particularly because economic gains can be directly measured from Black Friday and Cyber Monday efforts. My hope is that this day will clearly demonstrate charitable gains to the nonprofit organizations working to improve the quality of life for people and planet.

My only criticism of the effort (I know - how can you criticize giving and generousity???) is that it seems focused primarily on financial gifts. As any good philanthropist knows, generous people can give time, talent, and (or?) treasure. There doesn't seem to be a strong service component, but I imagine the counter-consumer focus is meant to be felt relative to our bank accounts, as well as our hearts.

The site is filled with ideas, ways to get involved, and resouces. Check it out - AND GIVE!


Big Bang Gala 2012: Illuminate

Explore the tastes, sounds, and creatures of the night at the California Academy of Sciences during the Big Bang Gala, a special evening benefiting the Academy's research and education programs. The evening features Ira Flatow, NPR science correspondent and host of Talk Of The Nation: Science Friday; Dean Kamen inventor of the Segway and many other inventions; Salman Khan, founder and one-man faculty of the Khan Academy; and Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google.

Big Bang Gala 2012: Party After Dark

April 19, 2012
8:30pm to midnight
For adults 21+

Tickets to the Gala are sold-out (!), but tickets are still available for Party After Dark, a post-dinner celebration featuring live music by Fitz and The Tantrums, late-night bites, and an open bar. Tickets for Party After Dark are $75 ($45 of each ticket is tax-deductible). For more information call 415.379.5411 or email

Join me!


Don't Be a Hater, Be a Donater!

Joe Montana and Ashkon remind San Francisco, "Don't Hate, Donate!" 


Reading Recommendation: The Raising of Money

It’s simple, yet all too true: “Organizations Have No Needs” is the first small chapter in the book The Raising of Money: 35 Essentials Trustees Are Using to Make a Difference by Jim Lord.

I’ve never thought about it before, but he’s obviously right.  The organization doesn’t have needs; people do. I’ve never heard an organization beg.  I’ve never heard an institution say “I’m hungry!” 

It’s what we so commonly assume about organizational behavior is that somewhat ironically, organizations are not literally alive, nor does one behave.

But when you want something to grow, much like a person, an organization requires essential nutrients and significant investment. We invest in people, for causes, that are approached in a strategic and organized manner.

As a reminder, civil society is really people asking for support and essential resources, for causes that are important to them for any number of reasons. Somewhat like requesting nourishment, the heart of philanthropy is based on personal relationships.

The book is divided into seven sections:

  1. Working from the Perspective of the Donor
  2. Getting People Involved
  3. Setting the Pace for Giving
  4. Applying the Campaign Principle
  5. Asking for Money
  6. Practicing Stewardship
  7. Kindling the Spirit of Philanthropy

Each section has a number of small chapters, each filled with tips and strategies, targeted to trustees and development professionals; or in the case of smaller nonprofits, the board of directors and fundraisers.

The book was recommended to me by my mentor as a fellow with the Association of Fundraising ProfessionalsGolden Gate Chapter. I was excited to read the book for professional and personal reasons.

For example, I was recently elected to the Board of Directors at Stanford Pride, a nonprofit networking organization affiliated with the Stanford Alumni Association. Without being preachy, the book had many pages that directly apply to my leadership and volunteerism. The book addresses both sides of the philanthropic coin – the donor and volunteer, or in many cases the donating philanthropist and development professional.

I’m definitely grateful that this book is fresh in my mind as I begin this service commitment!

The book is also filled with inspirational quotes – some from creative works, others from passionate philanthropists, such this inspiring quote on page 76 from John D. Rockefeller, Jr.:

“When a solicitor comes to you and lays on your heart the responsibility that rests so heavily on his; when his earnestness gives convincing evidence of how seriously interested he is; when he makes it clear that he knows you are no less anxious to do your duty in the matter than he is, that you are just as conscientious that he feels sure all you need is to realize the importance of the enterprise and the urgency of the need in order to lead you to do your full share in meeting it – he has made you his friend and has brought you to think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.”

In all honesty, this rather long quote resonates with my passion for my work and personal alignment with the mission of the California Academy of Sciences, where I spend my day job as a part of the development team. Each day, I aspire to work with donors in such a way that they will see my personal and professional missions as one in the same, and something they can be a part of as investors.

In conclusion, the book is also an important reminder that all forms of philanthropy (time, talent, treasure) is based on people helping people (also the title of chapter 26!). The book is dedicated “The the Volunteer… the heart and soul of philanthropy.”  Its insight-filled pages had many practical implications that apply to my work, my board service, and all other areas of my involvement in civil society.

Colleagues and comrades, this book is a must-read if you want to take your work in philanthropy seriously.