When TSDF Board Member Amanda Montgomery settled in San Diego in 2004, she didn’t know many people.

Amanda was previously stationed in San Diego with the Navy but subsequently left to secure her MBA from Harvard Business School. She found her way back to San Diego, and not knowing where to start getting involved locally, joined the alumni club and shortly thereafter joined their board.

“We said, as an alumni club, we need to be making a difference in our communities – how can we best do that?” Amanda recalled. The Harvard Business School Alumni Club partnered with The San Diego Foundation to launch a program for local nonprofit leaders to participate in a Harvard Business School course designed specifically to help nonprofit organizations hone their business and development skills.

“In addition to the course content, the opportunity for San Diego nonprofit leaders to connect and network with leaders of nonprofits from all over the country is so valuable in the way of learning,” Amanda expressed. “We as a business school club could not have done that without the resources of The San Diego Foundation.”

From then on, Amanda searched for ways that she could make a difference in the community she now calls home.

Philanthropic Beginnings

It wasn’t until college that Amanda became more philanthropically focused, joining a sorority that had a philanthropy partnership with Ronald McDonald House and making weekly dinners for families and children undergoing treatment at Duke University Hospital.

While stationed in San Diego during her five years of service in the U.S. Navy, Amanda recalls painting the National City Library and working with San Diego Habitat for Humanity alongside her sailors and troops as part of their community service.

After returning to San Diego full-time, Amanda realized it was time to take a more intentional approach to giving back.

She met Matt D’Arrigo, founder of A Reason to Survive (ARTS), through the very nonprofit leadership program that her business school alumni club coordinated alongside The San Diego Foundation, and he invited her to join their board. Working with ARTS in her first role as a board member ignited Amanda’s desire to support children and young people who don’t have a voice for or say in their futures.

Amanda is actively involved with One Love Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating relationship abuse, especially among young people.

“Positive touchpoints in [children’s] lives can be so meaningful and equally, their lives can be very easily derailed by things outside of their control or because they don’t have access to supportive resources to overcome obstacles,” she shared.

A Future with The Foundation

Amanda continues to use her 15 years of investment industry experience to contribute to local nonprofits through leadership on several investment committees, including The San Diego Foundation’s Investment Committee, which she was a member of prior to joining the Board of Governors.

Amanda joined the Board in July 2021, shortly after The Foundation launched its new Strategic Plan. She expressed that “the transition to focus on realizing just, equitable and resilient communities has been mind-blowing.”

“All the good The San Diego Foundation does is expanded by multiples with the new Strategic Plan,” she shared.

The fostering equity of opportunity pillar of the Strategic Plan resonates with Amanda’s desire to increase access to resources and tools for young people, including early care and education and wraparound services to assist students facing barriers to pursuing higher education.

She emphasized that this pillar means much more than simply offering everyone a seat at the table. 

“It’s not enough that everyone has a seat at the table. They have to feel comfortable at the table, heard at the table and cherished for their different views at the table,” Amanda stated.

Amanda shared that she is excited to watch The Foundation continue to shed its reputation as a community bank and transform into a changemaker for the San Diego region – and encourages others to be a part of that change, whether they’re giving of their time, talent or finances.

“The most simplistic definition of philanthropy is the desire and effort to give back,” Amanda shared, underscoring the fact that her earliest “giving” didn’t involve monetary gifts at all. When she was able to give back financially, though, she knew it was time to step up.

“If you have the ability to lead people, then you have an obligation to be a good leader,” she expressed. “If you’re fortunate enough to have had monetary success, then I think there’s a responsibility to give back in a way that helps to lift others.”