“Sports saved my life,” shared Susan Curtin, philanthropist with The San Diego Foundation.
While those words may seem hyperbolic at first, without sports Susan could have been on a very different path.
Growing up in a large family in southern California, Susan didn’t have what most would consider a conventional upbringing. As a teenager, many of the people closest to her struggled with addiction. Then, tragically, at age 15 her older brother took his own life.
For many young people, those types of experiences would be too much to overcome. Even Susan admits, “My road could have gone in a number of negative directions when I was growing up.”
But that’s where sports provided a positive outlet. As a child, Susan played volleyball and basketball in elementary school and then volleyball in High School and College. Sports brought her success. Sports allowed her to pursue other avenues such as getting a college degree. And importantly, sports helped her heal.
Sports also took on a whole new meaning as she grew older.
In college, Susan had the opportunity to become a camp counselor for young girls, which is where she learned just how impactful programs and opportunities at a young age can be.
“As a kid it was always my dream to go to a summer camp, but my family did not have the resources for me to attend,” recalled Susan. “So, the opportunity to participate in camps as a counselor took on a personal meaning when I was in college. I was able to see firsthand how valuable those experiences can be in the lives of young women.”
Since then, Susan has been committed to helping others like her grow and develop resiliency.
Educating Female Leaders
In early 2000, Susan served as an adjunct faculty member teaching a Coaching Managers and Leaders course at San Diego State University. In that time, she spent years educating and working with San Diegans from all backgrounds and professions to grow in their careers.
Among her many coaching success stories, one stands out above the rest. Tinesia Conwright, now founder and executive director of DETOUR (Depositing Empowerment Through Outreach & Urban Redevelopment) participated in Susan’s class and later coaching services turned what she learned into impact within her own community.
Tinesia developed DETOUR, a mentoring program for teen girls of color in southeast San Diego that provides education and employment opportunities, along with helping them navigate issues of identity, self-esteem, confidence, expressing emotions and other topics.
While just one example, Tinesia is proof of what’s possible when we invest in the potential of women.
Paying it Forward
At the same time she was teaching at San Diego State, Susan founded a leadership, talent and succession management consulting firm, Insights4Results, LLC. Building upon her personal experiences and professional expertise, Insights4Results has helped numerous employees and executives grow as leaders.
“I have done a lot of work throughout my career to develop leaders and improve their coaching skills at various companies,” explained Susan.
As a result, her training methods and tools are now highly sought after nationwide and she has been able to sell her proprietary “Managing4Results” model to companies that deploy it within their own organizations.
Using revenue from those sales, Susan decided to open a donor-advised fund at The San Diego Foundation to give back to young women with experiences just like hers.
Motivated by recent trends in the U.S. around gender equity and empowerment, Susan saw the need to support females during the formative years of their lives.
Through her philanthropy, Susan is committed to building a society that recognizes and invests in the potential of young women and girls.
“I never want to take for granted the opportunities that I’ve had,” shared Susan. “Growing up, sports helped shape my life and open doors that I would never have experienced otherwise. I know there are countless other young women in similar situations that just need an opportunity to succeed.”
While we have come a long way in creating more gender equity in society, there is still more work to be done and Susan is one of the many philanthropists taking up the call.
“Everyone enters this world with certain strengths and gifts, but the question is whether or not they get nurtured,” shared Susan. “Not everyone has the same resources, so it’s important that we do whatever we can to ensure those less fortunate have the same opportunities as everyone else.”
Whether that is through sports, academic scholarships, creative arts or other extracurricular avenues, Susan is helping young women reach their full potential.
As Susan describes it, “Investing in women is one of the best investments we can make in the future of our communities.”
Learn how you can join Susan and hundreds of other philanthropists to advance quality of life in San Diego.