David and Peg Engel Turn Passion for the Environment into Action

Environment Initiatives

David and Peg Engel are involved in an inspiring type of philanthropy. Long passionate about the environment and conservation, their family trust attorney suggested they reach out to The San Diego Foundation when they first moved to San Diego in the late 90s.

Shortly thereafter, David and Peg soon joined a group of donors interested in giving together in support of The San Diego Foundation’s environmental initiatives. David fast became a volunteer to help guide these initiatives, something he has continued to do since, in addition to supporting many regional organizations with Peg through their donor-advised fund.

At a time when many may pull back from community commitments, the birth of their first grandchild, Violet, made them realize the sense of urgency to their work was only growing. Starting an initiative called Stay Cool – Protect our Grandkids from Global Warming, David and Peg are inspiring other grandparents to take action today to ensure we leave a brighter future for our kids and grandkids.

I sat down with David and Peg to find out what first sparked their interest in putting their values into action through Stay Cool for Grandkids.

Interview with David and Peg Engel

Nicola Hedge: Tell us about your passion for the environment. How are you engaged in creating change?
David: Although we are still interested in other environmental issues, our chief focus for the past three years has been combating global warming and climate change. Unfortunately, if the world continues on its present greenhouse gas (GHG) emission trajectory, most of what has been accomplished in the way of environmental gains will be destroyed.  Global warming is really a children’s issue, and we are highly concerned about the world our granddaughter will inherit.

David and Peg EngelPeg and David Engel

NH: What do you hope the San Diego region is like in 20 years when Violet is graduating from college?
David: Our big picture vision for our granddaughter’s future is a world where global warming has been held to an increase of 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C).  If that can be accomplished we are cautiously optimistic that most everything else will be fine.

NH: What other local causes do you support?
Peg: We are long-time supporters of several local conservation nonprofits, including the Anza-Borrego Foundation, San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, the Natural History Museum and Endangered Habitats League, as well as more recently of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

NH: In your career, you’ve had success in both academia and business. What lessons from your professional life have been most useful in your work with nonprofits and philanthropy?
David: The biggest lesson is that great accomplishments are almost always team efforts, so team-building is highly important. One of the things we like best about The San Diego Foundation is that it has a terrific team, and they in turn have helped us build our Stay Cool team.

NH: How can others get involved with Stay Cool?
Peg: It’s easy. Anyone can join on our website: www.staycool4grandkids.org. Membership is free and we hold educational events for members with leading business, academia and government experts discussing global warming and what can be done to slow it. Also, at each meeting we provide members with opportunities to support local community efforts to reduce emissions.

Learn More

The San Diego Foundation leads efforts to educate and support all of our region’s communities in implementing action plans to address climate change through research, strategic investments, and collaborations with community leaders and policymakers, resulting in cleaner air, water and an overall healthier region.

Learn More About Our Climate Initiative


About Nicola Hedge, MPIA

Nicola Hedge, MPIANicola leads implementation of The San Diego Foundation’s environmental initiatives, working with donors, nonprofits, business and government partners to advance community efforts that protect our region’s clean air and water, natural resources and quality of life. Nicola joined The Foundation after working as a field research manager for a World Bank research project in rural Malawi and earning a master’s degree from UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.

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