Through Project Concern International, Del Mar resident finds a global calling

The sight of mothers and their newborns in Tijuana struggling amid a lack of basic health care left an indelible impact.

Patricia Mogul had already been doing everything she could to promote Project Concern International’s mission to create sustainable, community-driven solutions in some of the world’s most impoverished places. But her two trips — first in 2014, and again last October — to see PCI’s programs in Tijuana made her commitment even more real. It was there, in 1961, that Dr. James Turpin, a physician from Coronado, was volunteering at a clinic when he came across two pneumonia-stricken children on the verge of death, cases that in America would have been easily resolved with antibiotics. Struck by the profound lack of medical infrastructure, Turpin quit his family practice and founded PCI.

So when Mogul found herself in Tijuana’s outskirts alongside Turpin last year as PCI’s mobile clinic doled out health care, vaccinations and medical supplies to mothers and their newborns, it deepened her devotion to PCI’s mission.

“I could see that the work is actually saving people’s lives,” she said. “This is really basic aid that is being provided and it’s something that we take for granted here.”

Mere months after her second trip, the opportunity arose to take her commitment to an even higher level by co-chairing PCI’s 28th annual Hands Across Borders gala. Having already pitched in on PCI’s last five galas as well as various other charitable endeavors — she chaired the Art of Fashion gala for The Country Friends in Rancho Santa Fe four years ago — she jumped at the chance for a lead role in the Nov. 4 fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in La Jolla.

“An organization of this caliber, usually you find them in Washington or New York. To have this right here in San Diego is such an incredible opportunity for all of us to get involved,” she said. “It’s not just about dropping aid, it’s about organically and sustainably supporting the community and supporting people in fighting hardship from the ground up.”

PCI’s diverse programs reached more than 10 million people and ran in 16 countries last year through initiatives focused on health services, food, water, education and economic empowerment. Its strategies promote a community-first approach that engages people on how to implement sustainable solutions that empower them to overcome hardship. Those initiatives have won significant strides against polio in India, Ebola in Liberia and helped Haitians recover from the 2010 earthquake. More than 200,000 children in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Tanzania receive school meals every day thanks to its anti-hunger initiative.

Those efforts resonate with Mogul because of a life steeped in global citizenship. Born in London to an American father and a German mother, her worldly mindset grew even wider in her 20s as she traveled the world as a Lufthansa stewardess.

“My parents instilled that need to give back and be part of something larger than yourself. For me, having traveled the world provided an opportunity to look beyond ourselves,” she said. “I’ve learned that we all want the same for our kids. We are all the same and we all want the same things.”

One program particularly dear to her heart is the Women Empowered Initiative PCI has implemented in a dozen countries — a list that now includes San Diego. Earlier this month, PCI launched a “woman empowerment boutique” geared toward the refugee and immigrant community in City Heights. Run as an incubator-plus-storefront, the boutique gives female entrepreneurs a space to create their products — so far that’s been crafts, jewelry and catering — and be mentored on the ins and outs of microfinancing, licensure and credit.

Another recent push has come in the fight against human trafficking. PCI is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club and San Diego Unified Schools on a 24-week program that trains school mentors who in turn provide the prevention education to girls age 8 to 15.

Those are the sorts of efforts that have motivated Mogul and her co-chair Leila Hajalilou to roll up their sleeves with the gala’s 30-member planning committee to bring together the sponsorships, ticket sales and auction items for the 500 philanthropists and community leaders expected to attend. Their fundraising goal: $500,000 that will go toward keeping PCI’s operations humming.

“So much goes into an event like this to make it special,” Mogul said. “So many hard-working, dedicated individuals are working to make this a success. It’s all about teamwork and the PCI team is amazing. Working together with this amazing team of PCI staff and also this great group of dedicated women, it’s an inspirational experience.”

The Nov. 4 gala begins at 6 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit

For more on PCI, visit