As Chief Innovation Officer, Susan Guinn seeks new funding opportunities and cross-sector initiatives that allow San Diego Foundation and its partners to better address community needs in the San Diego County region.

As President & CEO of the San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center, Susan manages a team of experts and brings together community leaders dedicated to helping solve San Diego’s most pressing issues.

In this Q&A, learn more about Susan – both professionally and personally – as we honor her Asian American identity and leadership across our region.

What is your favorite part about working at San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center? 

My favorite part of working at the Policy & Innovation Center is creating relationships across local government and communities. Leveraging government and philanthropic resources in new ways to help historically marginalized neighborhoods is a driving motivator for me.

What do you enjoy most about building cross-sector, multi-jurisdictional partnerships? 

I love a good story, and I like to learn. I’m also a people person. So connecting people in unique ways across sectors based on their stories, interests and values is natural for me. There are many extraordinary leaders locally, and they should know each other. Their synergy, intellect and passion for partnerships extend beyond any sector.

How did you first learn about SDF?

I’ve known about San Diego Foundation for several years. However, I did not understand the value of a community foundation until Mark Stuart became CEO. Under his leadership, the foundation has blossomed beyond a community bank into a changemaker.

What social impact area matters to you the most?

Restoring our collective humanity matters most to me. Through this lens, climate adaptation, affordable housing, quality jobs, and communities where everyone can thrive and live safely are the norm.

What motivates you to keep going when work becomes particularly challenging?

When I feel particularly challenged, I look for hope and find it in my family, friends, and colleagues, that work to make our communities safer, healthier, and more inclusive.

How does your cultural background and identity inspire and impact your work?

I am a proud Asian American and an advocate for racial equity. I believe the words on the Seal of the United States, “E Pluribus Unum,” which means “Out of Many, One.” Regardless of our culture, religion, sexual orientation, gender and race, we are one nation, and each person deserves to belong in every way imaginable.

How do you make time for work/life balance?

I am still working on this and am open to suggestions!

How do you pass the time when you have 30 minutes of free time?

I visit my mother’s memorial bench to reflect when I have free time. She passed away last year, and I miss her terribly.  

What’s your favorite spot in your neighborhood?

Mission Bay Park

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

Bird watching

What is your favorite destination outside of San Diego?

Breckenridge, Colorado