The San Diego Foundation Development & Stewardship Team is here to help you by delivering world-class philanthropy and service, and expertly responding to your needs.

In this Meet our Giving Team blog series, we’re interviewing each of our team members so you can learn more about the individuals – both professionally and personally – who are helping you give confidently to make the most social impact. In today’s post, meet Amenah Gulamhusein, Senior Director of Development, Strategic Initiatives.

What is your favorite part about working at TSDF? 

The impact we have on the community! Our community impact programming is research-based, community-driven and led by incredible program directors who are aware of community needs. The work we do makes a huge difference in the lives of everyday San Diegans and I am proud to be a part of that.

What do you enjoy most about partnering with donors and philanthropists? 

It is always exciting when I can help a donor make a meaningful connection to their community. It is my goal to ensure every donor feels heard and can see the impact of their giving. When that finally happens, it is a powerful moment!

What inspires you?

My parents. I grew up in Kenya and have immigrated/moved multiple times in my life. We were not always financially stable and sometimes it was difficult for my family to make ends meet each week. But my parents never let that stop us from enjoying life, building our skills and giving back to our community. Thanks to them, I can lay tile, speak five languages, read music and see the value of my community.

How did you get started working in the nonprofit sector?

I got involved in high school as an organizer working on environmental issues and Indigenous rights. This led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration (MPA).

I began my career working for federal and state governments and quickly realized that to really address large societal problems, we are going to need a multi-sector approach. We need to figure out how to build meaningful partnerships between businesses, nonprofits and government and give communities the resources they need to build effective solutions.

That is what led me to the world of fundraising. I wanted to be part of ensuring that folks on the ground, in our communities, had the resources they needed from every sector to make a difference.

How did you first learn about TSDF?

I moved to San Diego in March 2020, at the height of the pandemic. That is when I encountered the incredible work TSDF was doing to address community needs and move funds to the most vulnerable communities in San Diego through the COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

How do you make time for work/life balance?

I love to be outdoors, and I make time to do that every day. We live in a beautiful region and I am determined to enjoy it. My husband and I schedule short walks throughout the day. This helps us stay connected to each other, explore new neighborhoods and be active.

What social impact area matters to you the most?

Ensuring access to high-quality care and early education is vital to the success of future San Diegans. And as a woman of color, I know that most early care providers are women of color. Providing opportunities for a living wage, better working conditions and professional growth in that sector will mean increased economic stability for families across the region.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

I am a voracious reader! I typically read at least one book a day – so any free time I have, you can find me curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea and my recent library find.

What’s your favorite spot in your neighborhood?

I am new to my neighborhood so it’s hard to answer this question. But, right now I would say Kit Carson Park. It’s so lively! There are always families picnicking, kids training for cross country running, teenagers playing frisbee, neighbors meeting up for walks, etc. I love walking there and being part of it all.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

I love to hike. I am a mountain girl at heart, and San Diego has some gorgeous trails.

What is your favorite book?

Right now, I am in love with “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong. It is a beautiful story about the connection between a mother and her son and an exploration of what it means to persevere as an immigrant.

What is your favorite destination outside of San Diego?

Sapa in Vietnam. I spent a month backpacking in Vietnam a few years ago and fell in love with the mountains and rice fields in Sapa. I am also a true Canadian at heart and dearly miss the big skies, crisp snow and prairies of my family’s home in Edmonton, Alberta.