Sit down with Cliff and Carolyn Colwell and you’ll learn one thing within the first few minutes – they are not a pair that likes to be sitting for too long.

The two longtime San Diego residents are most comfortable out in nature, often seen guiding visitors around the trails at Torrey Pines or exploring the beauty around Anza Borrego State Park.

And when not enjoying San Diego’s natural resources, chances are they are tirelessly working to protect them.

Sharing Passions

From a young age, each grew to appreciate the environment in their own way – Cliff through youth programs such as Cub Scouts; Carolyn through summer camp.

“Both of us have always been outdoorsy people and that’s how we first connected,” recounted Cliff. “The environment is critically important to us, and San Diego’s natural space is what initially drew us to move here.”

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Today, that love for the outdoors shows itself through their charitable work around San Diego.

Carolyn served on the first Environmental Working Group at The San Diego Foundation, and both lead the charge side-by-side on numerous sustainability and preservation projects throughout the region, including the Opening the Outdoors program at The Foundation.

Cliff puts it best when calling their style of giving back, “infectious.”

Which is why it should come as no surprise that the Colwell way of philanthropy stretches to all generations.

“For us, giving is also a family affair,” noted Carolyn. “We have passed down our passion and knowledge of the outdoors to our children and grandchildren. Every summer, we spend time as a family enjoying the remote outdoors, which builds a strong connection to nature within the family. Then every other Thanksgiving, we devote the weekend to a family service project together.”

Colwell Family

The Colwell family.

Motivating Others

Just as it did for them early on, Cliff and Carolyn hope their civic engagement inspires others.

As Cliff explained it, “All of the successful people we met throughout our lives gave back to society in some way. Those that had time, gave time. Those that had money, gave money. We recognized early on that for society to thrive, we all need to give back.”

For the Colwells, this means a lifetime committed to working with and connecting local organizations under the same principles of preserving and increasing access to the region’s natural landscape.

“We want our philanthropy to help build a sustainable way of living, and ensure that we are also opening this world to underserved communities in the process,” emphasized Carolyn.

By donating their time and treasure, the couple has found a way to make a lasting impact here at home. Alongside their friends and other local organizations, they are ensuring that San Diego remains a natural landmark for future generations.

So next time you see Cliff and Carolyn, sit down and ask them how you can make an impact.

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