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Meet Our Giving Team: Leslie Harrington

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 Leslie Harrington, Manager, Philanthropic Advisor.

What is your favorite part about working at TSDF? 

The work and friendships I have shared with my donors over the past several years are my favorite part! I have been so fortunate to get to know some of the most generous, smart, caring and fun individuals with a passion for helping our region be the best it can be. Together we have learned about our community needs and the non-profit organizations addressing those needs. We’ve shared life events and built relationships that will last well into the future.  

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

I enjoy learning about what inspires people to give and what causes touch their hearts. It varies widely and is always interesting.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by those who are optimistic, work hard to do good through giving back, and value friendship and family. I am fortunate to be acquainted with good friends, family and work colleagues who embody these philosophies and continually inspire me.

You’ve been with TSDF for more than two decades! How did you get your start?

Back in 1998, The San Diego Foundation received its largest gift at that time from Sol Price and the Weingart Foundation. I was friends with Bob Kelly,  then-President and CEO of The San Diego Foundation.

There was an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune about the gift, and I called Bob Kelly to congratulate him and say I would be interested in working at The San Diego Foundation if there was an opportunity.  I applied for the job and 23-plus years later I’m still enjoying my work. My first position was helping to manage the Weingart-Price Fund and grants administrator.

How do you make time for work/life balance?

Despite the ebb and flow of work and life responsibilities, I always make time to get outside and go for a walk. In the early years, while raising kids, I did this at the crack of dawn (or before). Now, I fit it in at a more reasonable hour. I love to walk and it’s very therapeutic. I also make time for friends and most definitely for family – we laugh a lot.

What social impact area matters to you the most?

I am most interested in and concerned about how human life is impacting our environment, not only for global health but for the everyday enjoyment of our surroundings. We need to protect our waters, our flora and fauna, and our climate for future generations. On a more micro level, we need parks, clean open space, and clean water for our children.  

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

By walking or reading – and I can do both with audiobooks!

What’s your favorite spot in your neighborhood?

The walking path along the bay.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

Taking a walk or going to the playground with my granddaughter.

What is your favorite book?

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. It’s an incredible tale with twists and turns. Amor Towles is truly a beautiful writer. His other two books, Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow are wonderful, too.

What is your favorite destination outside of San Diego?

Italy is a beautiful country.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

It’s simple – be kind and have courage.

Who is your role model?

My neighbor, who is 93 years young. She is an inspiration as a friend, a businesswoman and a confidant, and is so much fun to be around. We laugh, we share life’s ups and downs, and she continually inspires me with her positive energy. Her wisdom is a gift, but it’s not just traditional wisdom – it comes from looking at life with a sense of humor and optimism. She’s truly been a gift to me. I want to be like her.

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