A quick glance at the career paths of Dede and Michael Alpert is all you need to realize the couple has a deep understanding of our region’s challenges.
- Dede represented the San Diego region in the California Legislature from 1991 to 2004
- Michael served as a member and Chair of the Little Hoover Commission for 13 years
Look even further and you begin to recognize why this Rancho Santa Fe couple have such a profound impact on San Diego.
“We have always had a passion for community involvement,” shared Dede. “In the early days it was as a soccer coach or Girl Scouts leader for our children. As our family grew older, that evolved and I began to do more with the local school board and state legislature.”
But how did Dede and Michael become such passionate champions for San Diego’s at-risk youth and families?
For that answer, you have to jump back to a moment of happenstance.
“I came to learn about issues facing today’s youth later in life,” remembered Michael.
“It was only through a chance meeting in a grocery aisle that I started getting involved in juvenile justice. One of my friends, the head of judges for the juvenile courts, stopped me while shopping and mentioned the work he was doing with at-risk youth. He asked me if I wanted to get involved, and as a recently retired lawyer with a desire to give back, that answer was easy.”
And so began Michael’s path to helping at-risk families and youth. His pro-bono work in the juvenile justice system led him to serve on the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency created to promote government efficiency and improve the impact of public policies and programs.
At the same time, Dede was already deeply involved with overlapping causes.
In addition to her years in public office, she was in the first training class of CASA volunteers, a program that pairs adults with youth advocates for the rights and well-being of children who pass through foster care. Dede also played a key role on the board at San Pasqual Academy, a first-in-the-nation residential education campus designed specifically to meet the needs of foster teens.
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Together, Dede and Michael share a passion to learn and grow in their civic involvement.
As Dede puts it, “We view ourselves as people who are always interested and willing to learn. Never the experts.”
Commitment to Impact
Through these efforts, the two began to recognize a glaring problem with the way the U.S. supports at-risk youth.
“We view our country as a land of opportunity, but there are large groups of individuals who aren’t afforded the same chances,” explained Michael.
Many of today’s youth want to play an active role in society but face an uphill battle because of systemic problems such as:
- Limited Family and Financial Support, and
- No Pathway to Higher Education
“When you look at the statistics of children in foster care, so few are graduating high school, which is just a tragic commentary on how the system is operating,” Michael noted as an example.
But many of the solutions needed to address these challenges exist today.
As Dede and Michael describe San Diego’s support services for at-risk youth and families, they share their belief that we do not need to reinvent the wheel but simply educate everyone on the root challenges and coordinate local efforts.
The couple now dedicates their time, talent and treasure to strategically helping overcome the hurdles at-risk youth and families face.
“Our region is full of people who care and give back. Now we must channel that support to make the most impact,” concluded Dede.