I work for Blue Shield of California Foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization that is funded entirely by contributions from Blue Shield of California. The Company gifts between $30-$40 million annually to the Foundation for grantmaking to help us achieve our Mission: “To build lasting and equitable solutions that make California the healthiest state and end domestic violence.”

I spent 20 years in the for-profit industry, and I was focused on having a successful career and earning a good income. But eventually I came to realize that I wasn’t fulfilled by all of the hard work I was putting in and none of that work was making a real difference in my community. So, I left my job, took a summer off to help a friend open a martial arts studio, and gave myself space to reflect on my career trajectory. Most of my friends worked in philanthropy, so I examined my options to move into the nonprofit sector. I’d been an active member of a local Hawaiian cultural center, and I wanted a career that inspired that same passion and meaning for me.

Maybe this seed was planted in me by watching my mother and my activist sister fight for what they believed in while helping those who experienced social inequities. My father passed away when I was five years old and my mom had the difficult job of raising three young children on her own with no experience in the workforce. It was a struggle, but she had a lot of help from friends and family to get her on her feet. And then, once she could give back, she did. She always fought for what she felt was right. If she felt like others were being mistreated, she’d be the first one to intervene. Her goal was to help people who either didn’t have a voice, or who didn’t have the means to support themselves.

I landed at the Foundation in 2005. Blue Shield not only provides the funding we need for our grantees, but they also make sure we have enterprise-wide resources available to do our jobs. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, we were able to respond promptly to the needs of the communities that we serve and grant funds to address urgent community needs at that moment. I’m proud to be a part of this work.

I’m also proud of my ability to grow at the Foundation. I’ve been given many opportunities to develop my leadership skills and was recently promoted to a program operations manager role, where I now supervise my own team. The most wonderful part is that I am growing professionally while also helping to make the world a better place.