Celebrating San Diego’s philanthropists

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Linda Katz is the honorary chair of National Philanthropy Day San Diego


On Oct. 28, San Diegans like Evelyn and Ernest Rady, and Lori M. Walton will be honored at National Philanthropy Day San Diego’s awards luncheon.

But working behind the scenes to organize the event and spread the word about volunteerism is Del Mar’s Linda Katz.

Katz, who describes herself as a full-time civic activist, is the honorary chair for National Philanthropy Day San Diego. If her name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s married to Mel Katz, co-owner of Manpower and fellow philanthropist.

Linda Katz, 62, moved to San Diego from Phoenix in 1977. In between raising three children — and now being a grandmother to five — she’s been involved with local causes for over 30 years.

Q: What is National Philanthropy Day?

A: National Philanthropy Day, sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) San Diego, is an annual celebration of philanthropy and the rich diversity of our region. The event recognizes and honors individuals and organizations whose philanthropic achievements have demonstrated a significant positive impact on the San Diego community.

Q: Why should the average San Diegan care about this?

A: The nonprofit sector is a vital component of our community. With government funding continuing to decline, the importance of the work of the nonprofits is an increasingly critical factor to a vibrant economy. Also, the face of philanthropy is changing. Philanthropy is about sharing the gifts of time, talent and treasure. Collectively, these hundreds of thousands of diverse gifts shared generously, each and every day, are what make the magic in our community. National Philanthropy Day San Diego celebrates these gifts from across the county, from people we hear about in the news, as well as from unexpected places – but all demonstrate a commitment to making our region a better place to live, work and play.

Q: Is philanthropy only about contributing money?

A: We all have different gifts to give, at different times of our lives. Philanthropy is reading to a child, mentoring a young professional; tutoring a student. Each and every one of us, regardless of our position, has gifts that others can benefit from us choosing to share. Every little bit we share, collectively, adds up to a whole, whole lot.

Q: Do you have a specific cause to which you volunteer or contribute?

A: Equity is one of my core values; I mostly volunteer and support organizations that benefit the most vulnerable populations of women and girls, particularly working to set underserved women and girls up for economic security and financial sustainability. I have enjoyed serving as a volunteer with Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest for over 30 years. I am proud to have served as founding president of the San Diego Women’s Foundation, an affiliate of The San Diego Foundation and as co-founder of Women Give San Diego, a donor circle of the Women’s Foundation of California.

Q: How did you first become interested in helping others?

A: I grew up in a family who believed in sharing with others. My mom and I volunteered together at an early age. We volunteered at the local senior center and I served as a candy striper in our local hospital. My husband, Mel, was raised in a family with the same value of giving back to the community. It’s what we do; we are so grateful for the many gifts we have received. We gain great pleasure in actively engaging in the work of bettering our community for all San Diego.

Q: What are some issues you think are especially important in San Diego?

A: Equity surfaces itself as a continual challenge for many in our community, in our nation and throughout the world. Women are not paired equally for equal work. Women are not equally represented in many sectors in our community, whether public, private or nonprofit. Quality health care and education are not available to all. I believe passionately that our community is better served when our power structure is gender balanced and truly reflects the rich diversity of our region.

Q: You arrived in San Diego in a unique way, can you tell us about it?

A: In 1977, together with our best friends, Catherine and Phil Blair, we rented a U-Haul and moved to San Diego. Within three months, Mel and Phil bought the San Diego Manpower franchise. Mel and I got married and Catherine and Phil gave birth to their first child. People told us that the four of us would either stay best friends or business partners, but never both. Thirty-seven years later, Mel and Phil are still business partners; we are all still best friends. Lucky, lucky us.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?

A: I was a home economics major in college; I don’t enjoy cooking or sewing,

Q: Please describe your ideal San Diego weekend.

A: My ideal weekend is walking along the Del Mar shore with my 7-year-old, mini Labradoodle, Charli, and then curl up in our courtyard with a good book. The day would wrap with walking into the village, enjoying the sunset and meeting friends for a glass of wine and tapas.

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