When Ted Haggblade remembers his daughter Meghan, he instantly recalls her volunteerism.
“She actually volunteered through her San Diego-based company at Ocean Discovery Institute,” Haggblade recalled. “We toured the facility shortly after she passed, and we just thought it was a great program that is exactly the type of thing she would support. She liked helping kids, especially kids that maybe need a little extra help.”
For the Love of STEM
Heavily involved in environmental causes and interested in serving as a mentor for young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, Meghan invested her time in the San Diego community after moving here for work.
“Meghan just loved San Diego,” Haggblade said. “It gives us some focus and comfort carrying on her wishes.”
Originally hailing from Plano, Texas, Meghan moved to California for college at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, also known as Cal Poly SLO. There, she studied environmental management and protection; she graduated magna cum laude in 2014 and her department recognized her as the Outstanding Environmental Professional of the Year. Later, during her cancer treatment, Meghan also finished a master’s degree in environmental management at the University of Denver.
After graduating from Cal Poly SLO, Meghan moved to San Diego to start her career as an environmental planner with AECOM, an international construction company specializing in infrastructure. During her seven years with AECOM, the company promoted her several times and she eventually worked as senior environmental planner and project manager. Her volunteerism was closely tied to her work – she served on AECOM’s Great Places to Work committee, served as their office’s site captain for Coastal Cleanup Days, and formed AECOM teams for annual breast cancer walks, among other activities.
Building a Legacy
Unfortunately, Meghan was diagnosed with thymic carcinoma, a rare form of cancer, at 28 years old. While she battled cancer with the same courage, grace and positivity with which she lived her life, she passed away at 29.
In her memory, her family wanted to continue her support of the region she called home. That’s when they turned to San Diego Foundation to start the Meghan Haggblade Legacy Foundation.
“It was just a real tough time,” Haggblade remembered. “Some people said, ‘we’d like to help.’ One thing led to another and I’d heard good things about the San Diego Foundation.”
Together, the family worked with SDF staff to build a legacy of support for the people and causes Meghan cared about.
“To be honest, I looked at one of the big brokerage houses where they have donor-advised funds and I looked at SDF,” Haggblade said. “I liked the big brokerage program, but what really tipped the scales to SDF was some of the hand-holding and custom support. And then there’s the fact that people could contribute through a credit card, which was very easy to set up.”
While the Haggblade family, including her mom, two brothers, one of whom lives in San Diego, and Meghan’s fiancé, continue to build an endowment, they look forward to soon supporting the causes Meghan cared about in perpetuity.
Their goal is to raise $250,000 and eventually grow it to $500,000, so the interest can be used to support the causes Meghan cared about, like supporting young girls and women of color in STEM fields through programs like Ocean Discovery Institute, advancing environmental causes, and aiding rare cancer research and others with cancer.
The funding they’ve received thus far has come from all those who knew Meghan.
“We held a celebration of life event in April in San Diego in the Belmont Park area,” Haggblade shared. “We had over 200 people attend – including her friends from her running club, her work, her college, and the local community. She did touch a lot of people – there’s a big community that knew her and supported her.”
Thanks to that same community, the love and support Meghan had for San Diego, will continue.
Click here to learn more or donate to the Meghan Haggblade Legacy Foundation today.