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 Candace Wo, Director of Mitigation and Nonprofit Funds.

What is your favorite part about working at TSDF?

The people and organizations! I remember a past employee telling me that there are many things to love about working at TSDF, but chief among them are the amazing people this organization attracts, and to this day that sticks in my mind. Additionally, in my role at TSDF, I get to interact with all of the amazing organizations within our diverse region, and partnering with them is such an incredible gift.

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

As the Director of Mitigation and Nonprofit Funds, I primarily work with environmental organizations and nonprofits. Seeing the dogged determination of all of our partner organizations gives me hope for the future of all San Diegans.

What inspires you?

My incredible husband. He is by far the brightest, most compassionate, and service-minded person I have ever met. He can build a house and enjoy a musical, and most importantly, he helps me to see that there are other sides to every situation. I truly believe the world is a better place because he is in it.

How did you get started working in the nonprofit sector?

I always say you don’t find fundraising, fundraising finds you. I volunteered at a small direct service organization for homebound seniors in college and the Executive Director at the time suggested I study public administration/policy in graduate school. She must have seen my knack for nonprofit organizations early in my career. I ended up going to the University of Southern California where I finished graduate school and ended up working for their Advancement team. As they say, the rest is history.

How did you first learn about TSDF?

I have lived and worked in San Diego for nearly ten years, and being in the nonprofit world, The San Diego Foundation has always been in my orbit. I first learned about TSDF through the Arts Initiative and later through other programmatic areas.

How do you make time for work/life balance?

I take the time to care for myself. If I don’t do it, no one will. You have one life and one body – take care of it, love it, cherish and harness all its power.

What social impact area matters to you the most?

I believe one of the most pressing issues we face in the modern era is the impact of human life on the environment. How can we ensure there is a world for the future? How can we stop sea-level rise and the rising temperature?  

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

Either by reading or admittedly scrolling through my phone, and playing with my cats.

What’s your favorite spot in your neighborhood?

I just moved, so that is yet to be seen, but in my old neighborhood, this amazing Vietnamese spring roll joint call Goi Cuon. They are not paying me to say this, but I would welcome a roll of any kind!

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

Walking or hiking on or near the beach.

What is your favorite book?

Most recently, The Vanishing Half or Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning. The sheer amount of AAPI writers who have gained prominence in the last few years is heartening and has been a joy to read.

What is your favorite destination outside of San Diego?

Morocco, Hong Kong (my home), or my parent’s house in the Bay Area (my other home).

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“Feelings are not facts and the universe is a benevolent conspiracy hellbent on showing me magic if I simply get out of the way.” (words by author Mary H.K. Choi)

Who is your role model?

Women. The power we possess is otherworldly. I see women every day making “it” happen with little more than sheer will and courage. Thank you to all those brave women who have come before and after.