Tuesday, February 23rd

Founded by a group of civic and philanthropic leaders in 1975, the San Diego Foundation has grown into one of the Top 25 community foundations in the nation.  The Foundation has over 1,900 charitable funds designated for grant-making and creating opportunities to be WELL for all San Diegans.

WELL is an acronym that stands for Work, Enjoy, Live & Learn.  WELL helps focus the Foundation’s Mission to improve the quality of life in all our communities by providing leadership for effective philanthropy that builds enduring assets and by promoting community solutions through research, convenings and actions that advance the common good.

Leslie Klein, Roger & Leslie Harrington

       Leslie Klein, Roger & Leslie Harrington

Over the last 40 years the Foundation has provided over $930 million in grants to non-profits around San Diego, California and the United States, including over $48 million distributed in 2015.  The total assets managed by the Foundation were valued at over $685 million as of June 30, 2105!

Leslie Klein, the Director of Charitable Giving and Leslie Harrington, the Philanthropic Advisor for Donor Relations, provided the overview of the Foundation to the Optimist Club.  “Last year the Foundation provided over $10 million to support education in San Diego.  Over $3 million was given out as scholarships to local youth,” Ms Klein told us.  “Education is a major category for the Foundation and many of our directed endowments.”

Ms Harrington told us that Health and Human Services received over $9 million, ‘Civil Society’ received over $8 million, Arts & Culture over $7 million, Environment  over $5 million and Youth Development over $4 million.  “My job is to work with some of the major endowments that have been created at the Foundation.  We provide research and technical assistance to these endowments to assist them in their philanthropic goals,” she said.

The goal of the Foundation is to make grants that total 5% of the endowment values, to focus these grants on the WELLness of San Diego  and provide other services to encourage philanthropic activity in the community.  From everything we saw this morning, the PL Optimists want to say “Well done! And, keep up the great work!”

Tuesday, February 9th

Mara Elliot and President Ken


The City Attorney’s Office is the legal advisor to the City Council and Mayor’s office.  The City Attorney’s position is an elected position for the City of San Diego.  The election provides for a four year term and a maximum of two consecutive elected terms in office.  Mara Elliot is a Chief Deputy City Attorney for San Diego.  She has nearly 20 years of public sector legal experience and she works directly for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Jan Goldsmith will be termed out this year.  Mara Elliot is running for his position and stopped by the Optimist breakfast this morning to share with us her thoughts on the job and her plans if elected.

As a Charter City, San Diego’s City Attorney is responsible for items such as how local elections are handled, how the City adopts new ordinances, contracts out work, compensates its employees, finances public improvements, handles land use and zoning issues and prosecutes misdemeanor offences.  The San Diego City Attorney’s office has a $47 million annual budget.  It employs 355 people, which includes 144 attorneys.  The office is divided into four departments, Civil Advocacy, Civil Litigation, Criminal  and Community Justice Divisions.

Primary issues of importance within the City Attorney’s office today include dealing with Storm Drainage and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, implementing the new Climate Action Plan, Pension Reform, Infrastructure Financing and the future of the Charger football team in San Diego.  Ms. Elliott gave us brief insights into each of these areas and explained how the City Attorney’s office works with the City Council, Mayor and Departments to protect the City and its citizens.

The election in June will set the table for a runoff in November.  We wish Mara Elliott luck with her campaign and thank her for her time this morning.

Dr. Michael McQuary – 2/2/2016

The Optimists celebrated the 97th birthday of our senior member, Jack Wartes, at breakfast today.  Congratulations, Jack!

Dr McQuary, thanked by President Ken

Dr McQuary, thanked by President Ken

Our guest speaker at breakfast was Dr. Michael McQuary, Board President of the San Diego Unified School District.

His impressive background covered a wide range of experiences from longshoreman to teaching in Tibet.  He described his passions for community, schools, education, and students doing well.  Everywhere he worked he  connected with the community by his participation in at least one local service club … the Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lions Clubs, as well as being the founding chapter president of the Optimist Club of Lindsay, California.  His past successes include improving the math skills of students at each locale to which he has been assigned.  Today he leads the second largest school district in California, San Diego Unified, in pursuing their vision of  quality schools in every neighborhood for their 133,ooo students.  He expressed sincere appreciation for the contributions our Optimist Club has made in that regard, and most recently, the large donation to fund the new math and science lab at Dewey Elementary School.


Grand Opening of Math and Science Lab at Dewey

Grand Opening of Dewey Elementary School’s Math and Science Lab, 1/12/2016.


Speaker Michael Oddino From Fox Sports San Diego – 1/26/16

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

You can hang a star on that one!

Famous words from a famous San Diego superstar, obviously we all recognize the tag line of our beloved Col. Jerry Coleman, retired US Marine fighter pilot, famed second baseman for the New York Yankees and Hall of Fame radio broadcaster for the San Diego Padres!  Those words drew pictures in our mind, lasting memories for a lifetime.

Today, we find the pictures are brought to us in high definition, from 22 different angles, for every single pitch.  We have Fox Sports San Diego to thank for this bounty of images and we have Michael Oddino in particular to thank for directing those cameras and their replays, historical look-backs and statistical facts to keep us informed and entertained.Micheal Oddinno and Ken

Michael brought his perspectives and experiences to the Optimist breakfast meeting this morning and shared his insights and passions with us.  Think about it … guys, sports, tv!  What more could you ask for????  Michael is a Director for Fox Sports San Diego.  As he described it, “I get to sit in a 53′ trailer, outside the ballpark and direct 9 cameramen and 13 robotic cameras to bring the audience the best experience on every pitch.”

Michael meets with Dick Enberg and Mark Grant before each game.  They talk about the plan for the game and key issues for discussion, statistics and playbacks.  “A great general once said, ‘The first casualty of war is the Plan,” he told us.  “And, the great ones adjust!”  So directing the television broadcast of a baseball game is all about adjusting.  Michael listens to Dick and Mark as they talk to the audience.  Then he and his crew try to provide them with the camera angles, replays, statistics and historical footage they need to convey their messages more clearly.  “I love my job!” Michael shared.

Sports broadcasting still has its challenges.  Cable fees are being cut through the loss of subscribers and “cutting the cord”.  More and more the audience is leaving “pay for cable” providers and moving to online sources.  Technology is a big game changer and the broadcasters have to find new ways to keep the audience entertained and connected.  This concern is driving to innovations in broadcast procedures.  “We are doing more remote directing of games,” Michael explained.  “I can sit with my team in San Diego and direct the broadcast of a game in Arizona.  We use local cameramen for the manned cameras, but my team is with me, here in San Diego for the rest of the operation.  This saves the company the travel costs for the production.”

Michael says the Padres and Fox have a great relationship.  They are working together to create the best experiences for the viewer.  We wish Fox and SDSU could get together, and so does Michael.  “I’m an SDSU Grad.  My dream is to be directing Aztec football and basketball games.”

Well, you can hang a star on that idea!

Cathy Gallagher – 1/12/15

This Tuesday, January 12, 2016, the Point Loma Optimists were pleased to have the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute’s (FBEI) executive director, Cathy Gallagher, give a presentation on rising housing costs in and around the San Diego area and possible actions we could take to lower these costs. Assisting Mrs.Gallagher was the FBEI’s Assistant Director, Paul Gentry. Paul and Cathy presented a summary of what they, along with the staff at FBEI, discovered in their study Opening San Diego’s Door to Lower Housing Costs. In the study they discovered that regulations, government fees, and requirements on the cost of new single and multi-family housing, are responsible for 40% of housing costs.

Executive Director of Fermanian Business and Economic Institute

Executive Director of Fermanian Business and Economic Institute

Possible solutions presented included:
– streamlining the entitlement process to lessen litigation and political risks, which in turn, reduces time and financial losses
– standardizing Title 24 requirements
– putting in place a “No Late Hits” policy to avoid challenges or comments from being submitted after the final project has been approved
It was an insightful and entertaining demonstration and the Optimists all enjoyed Cathy and Paul stopping by early Tuesday morning!

Nate Spees – 1/5/16

Good morning and Happy New Year to all our Optimistic Friends!

Is there a better way to start off the New Year, than with a discussion of the future of San Diego?  Nate Spees, a Partner and the Creative Director for Made by Grizzly, challenged our full house of Optimists to become more creative.  According to Albert Einstein (and Nate), “Creativity is intelligence having fun!”  Of course, we all want to have fun!

Randy, Nate & KenMade by Grizzly (ie Grizzly) …”is an independent creative agency that builds meaningful, impactful experiences for adventurous brands.” Grizzly is also championing the Creative Movement is San Diego.  Nate is currently the Host for Creative Mornings in San Diego.  Creative Mornings “…is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community.”  There are over 130 chapters of Creative Mornings spread around the world.  San Diego is the 100th Chapter.  Creative Mornings offers a free meeting once a month to meet, greet, communicate, socialize, network and get your creative juices flowing.  Almost 300 people per month participate in the San Diego meetings.  The meetings are generally held at the Moniker Warehouse in the East Village, but future meetings may be moved to the community space in the new Downtown Central Library.  For more information on these meetings, you can sign up for the local newsletter here.

Creative Mornings

To grow the creative culture in San Diego, Nate is focusing on 4 key elements.  Culture, Community, Industry, and Economy.  This is not to say the San Diego scene is not creative.  Just look around at the work of telecom, bio-tech, SPAWARs, universities, the arts community, etc.  San Diego is loaded with creative people.  People who are very good at working creatively within the area of expertise.  Nate wants to break down those silos for creative work and expand the universe of creativity into a network of all San Diegans.  When creativity becomes a way of life and not just a way of work, then the potential for creative growth across all members of society is limitless.

The next step for Nate is the creation of the San Diego Creative Foundation.  It is Nate’s hope that the awareness of the need and the value of creativity can be spread through the work of this Foundation.  “In our business world today, creative people have been relegated to the kid’s table”, he told us.  “I want to bring creativity to the head table and Create the Future San Diego!”  These are the words of Nate, the “Creative Evangelist!”

Maitreyi Nagarkar – 12/1/15

This morning’s guest speaker was Maitreyi Nagarkar.  She is a 3rd year PhD student in marine biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  The Optimists in attendance were introduced to her research on the fascinating marine microbial world that exists in our local ocean waters.  She additionally briefed opportunities for all age groups to experience the work at Scripps first-hand.  This may be a real opportunity for Dewey Elementary (with their new math and science lab initiatives) and other schools with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to expand their students’ exposure to real science currently being conducted.

President Ken congratulates Maitreyi Nagarkar, from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, on successfully enlightening Pt Loma Optimists on the world of microbes in our oceans.

                              President Ken congratulates Maitreyi Nagarkar, from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, on successfully enlightening

Pt Loma Optimists on the world of microbes in our oceans.


At this morning’s breakfast at the San Diego Yacht Club, we were honored to have one of our own club members deliver a fascinating brief on the drug sub-culture.  Since he is an undercover deputy sheriff who has worked the streets across our country to counter narcotics trafficking for the last 30-plus years, he will remain unnamed.  Suffice it to say, if you missed this meeting, you missed a real eye-opener.  Our sincere thanks go to our buddy “_____” for his dedication to duty and for putting his life on the line to keep us safer.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Acting President, Fernando Mesquita, is assisted in the raffle drawing by our undercover guest speaker.

                                  Filling in as President, Fernando Mesquita is assisted in the breakfast raffle drawing by our undercover guest speaker.

Mac McLaughlin – 11/10/15

The Midway Museum

The Midway Museum

She’s known as “America’s Living Symbol of Freedom”.

She was the largest ship in the world, when she was commissioned in 1945.

Her flight deck is more than 4 acres.

She launched aircraft from her catapults at speeds up to 150 knots!

Her official top speed was 33 knots (or 38 mph).

She will host over 1.3 million visitors in 2015!

She is of course, the USS Midway, the most visited historic ship in the world.  And, her daily operations are overseen by Rear Admiral Mac McLaughlin (USN Ret.).  The Point Loma Optimists had the pleasure of hearing from “Mac” this morning.

Adm McLaughlin and Ken

Adm McLaughlin and Ken

With more than 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft, a visit to the USS Midway is truly a memorable adventure.  Not just for those with military ties, but over 70% of todays visitors to the USS Midway come from a family with no relatives that have served in the military!  The Midway Museum offers a real life view of life and times in military service.

With two types of flight simulators, interactive exhibits, short films, music videos, climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits and the “Ejector Seat Theater”, there is something for every visitor, no matter what your age.  A self guided audio tour will ensure you of the facts and figures surrounding the USS Midway.  And, knowledgeable docents are available to answer your questions or provide you with interesting tidbits of information.

The USS Midway Museum is the only non-profit organization of its kind that “runs in the black” without outside funding or donations.  And, the museum gives back in many additional ways with educational programs and training, special events, and military and veteran opportunities.  There is always something new and special happening on board the USS Midway.

Malin Burnham – 11/3/15

Community before self.

This is the personal motto for one of San Diego’s preeminent business leaders, sportsmen, visionaries and philanthropists, Malin Burnham.  “Community is so much more important to us.  More than anything else,” he told us.  A focus on Community makes San Diego a great place to live, work and play.

Malin Burnham and Pres. Ken

Malin Burnham and Pres. Ken

The Burnham family has long been known for their business interests in San Diego, as leaders in the real estate, insurance and mortgage lending fields.  But in 1986, Malin changed his focus to the non-profit world.  “I wanted to create a bigger and better community for San Diego.”  So focusing on ideas like a new regional airport, Balboa Park improvements, along with San Diego as a Smart City, an Innovation Center, a medical practices center, a bi-national center with Mexico, a military defense center and a tourism center are all ways to improve our Community.

Today Malin is working on a Balboa Park improvement bond, something to take before the voters in June of 2016.  We have a flagship facility in Balboa Park.  It is similar to Central Park in Manhattan, but much more user friendly with 23 museums, the zoo and a golf course with in the park.  A $500 million improvement bond would go a long way to solving issues like parking and building maintenance.  He suggested, “We could even create an Innovation Center/Museum to show off our history of innovation, like Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis to Qualcomm’s latest and greatest microchip innovations.  But, it would primarily serve as an incubator for the next greatest ideas to come from our community!”

As the longest continuous serving member for the San Diego Yacht Club, you might think that Malin Burnham is ready to slow down and bask in a bit of that well-earned glory.  But nooo!  “I’m just getting started,” he said.  “The potential is so great.  Just think how much more we can do, if we put the good of our Community before our selves!” Ben Miller, new member

The Point Loma Optimists inducted a new member today.  Ben Miller comes to the Club as the newest and youngest member.  He also comes with the distinction as the member with the most and longest hair!  Congratulations Ben! And, welcome!