Joan Brackin’s Unconventional Journey Leads to a Legacy of Generosity

Legacy donor Joan Brackin (right) and Board Chair Kay Coleman at The San Diego Foundation 2019 Annual Meeting.
Legacy donor Joan Brackin (right) and Board Chair Kay Coleman at The San Diego Foundation 2019 Annual Meeting.

To say Joan Brackin’s impact on the world has been unconventional would be to understate the significance of her life journey.

We build our legacy while we are living.

Joan, a legacy fund holder at The San Diego Foundation and lifelong environmentalist, was surrounded by philanthropy from an early age. Her father instilled in her the values of helping others while she was young and her family had a deep love and appreciation for the outdoors and animals.

“I still remember earning an allowance for doing chores when I was younger,” recalled Joan. “I always wanted to give my hard-earned quarters to the Animal Rescue Society.”

Given those early experiences, it makes sense that Joan now spends most of her time helping others and the environment.

But it’s what happened in between then and now that may come as a surprise.

Rebuilding a Legacy

Immediately after getting her degrees from the University of Oklahoma and University of Illinois, Joan took a job that she found to be a great fit given her science and engineering background. The role was working on high-level scientific research and innovation for Monsanto, a company now synonymous with many of the controversial products used in food and agriculture.

“For 17 years, I spent most of my days in a laboratory working on genetically-engineered crops for Monsanto,” explained Joan. “When I first joined, I was excited to put my education to work and had no idea how damaging the company was to the world but the longer I worked there, the more I realized I was not helping the world.”

As time passed and the public learned more about Monsanto as a company, Joan began to question the impact of her work and her excitement for the role subsided.

“Because that company did so many controversial actions, I knew I needed to focus my efforts on something positive to balance my karma and get back to what I cared about most,” recalled Joan. “I promised myself that for as many years as I spent working for Monsanto, I would spend the exact same number of years helping the environment and other people.”

I believe that everybody deserves to experience the joy and pride of accomplishing their goals

Since leaving Monsanto, Joan has focused her efforts on environmental restoration, cleanup and conservation throughout San Diego County and the west coast, including serving on the board for I Love a Clean San Diego.

In addition, she founded the Some Day is Now Foundation, which is built on the belief that no one should wait for that “some day” when they can pursue their dreams.

“I believe that everybody deserves to experience the joy and pride of accomplishing their goals,” shared Joan. “They just need the inspiration and support to do so.”

The Some Day is Now Foundation provides individuals with the tools and resources to transform their aspirations into accomplishments. Since starting this work, Joan has helped numerous people pursue new careers and check off items on their bucket list.

Generosity in Action

When asked why she spends so much of her time helping others, Joan explained, “We build our legacy while we are living. There is nothing I enjoy more than doing something that will change someone’s life.”

I wanted to honor my family and honor the things that I’m most passionate about.

That’s also why she set up a legacy fund with The San Diego Foundation.

Joan often reflects on how she wants to be remembered and a legacy fund was another opportunity for her to leave a positive mark in the community, forever.

“The reason I established my own legacy fund with The San Diego Foundation was to accomplish two goals,” shared Joan. “I wanted to honor my family and honor the things that I’m most passionate about.”

Through her work today, and the impact of her legacy fund for generations to come, Joan will forever be remembered as someone committed to the environment and her community who improved the world now and forever.