By Claire Harlin
Del Mar resident Teresa Jacques has dedicated much of her time to the San Diego Women’s Foundation, from serving as an interim president to marketing chair of the 200-member organization. But recently, her step down from office to being a member-at-large and serving on the foundation’s discovery team has resulted not only in the discovery of her community’s funding needs, but also her own self-discovery.
“Getting involved in this process, it’s amazing what I am learning,” said the United Kingdom native, who joined the foundation to get a broader perspective on San Diego when she moved here in 2001. “Our mission is not just about supporting nonprofits. It’s about inspiring and educating our members.”
Founded in 2000 by a few local women with big ideas, the San Diego Women’s Foundation each year identifies areas of need in one of several rotating focus areas — health and human services, civil society, education, arts and culture, and the environment. As the grants committees award funding in one area, raised from each member’s contribution of $2,000 or more, the discovery team is already researching the city’s needs in the next area. Right now, as non-profits across the city are being awarded grants relating to arts and culture, last year’s focus area, Jacques is knee-deep in learning about San Diego’s environmental needs to identify goals for the 2013 year.
“The things that strike me the most revolve around water consumption issues … we are a desert at the end of the day, and it’s weird to be surrounded by water but to find out we are 90 percent dependent on water being transported,” said Jacques, who came to the United States as a global human resources executive. “Then, to find out that 45 percent of our water is spent on irrigation, that is eye-opening.”
Her London background has also provided her the insight to look objectively and critically at American customs in identifying ways to make San Diego a better place. She said that public transit is an area she’d like to see improvement, and upgrades in that area could come full circle to improve the economy and environment.
“Living in London, there was no way you could survive without the bus or train,” she said. “Here, you can’t survive without a car, and we continue with land use such as widening and building freeways. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a transportation system that would link us and help us get from ‘a’ to ‘z’?”
Jacques said being part of the foundation has changed her life, and she loves that her involvement has complemented her career through the years because members can participate as much or little as they wish.
“There’s no pressure to attend meetings, but when you go to events or meetings you meet all these amazing women and you’re like, ‘Wow, I want to get more involved and learn more things,’” she said. “There’s something about women. The female perspective is that there’s such a connection between heart and mind … Women just love to get involved and we’re never satisfied — we’re always looking to do things better and more effectively.”
For more information on the San Diego Women’s Foundation, visit