Supervisor Nathan Fletcher endorses Stephen Whitburn
Stephen Whitburn, who many consider the frontrunner in the race for City Council District 3, has secured another important endorsement. On Tuesday, Jan. 21, his team announced that Supervisor Nathan Fletcher had endorsed the longtime community and nonprofit leader running for City Council.
Fletcher’s represents all of District 3 on the County Board of Supervisors. Fletcher was the only Democrat to be elected to the Republican-held board in a landslide victory in 2018.
In endorsing Whitburn, Fletcher stated, “Stephen Whitburn is the champion we need at City Hall. His decades of experience and leadership have prepared him for the challenges our city is facing. Stephen is the partner I need to help address our housing and homelessness crisis and combat climate change in our region. I fully support Stephen Whitburn for San Diego City Council.”
Fletcher’s endorsement comes as Whitburn has racked up the support of many influential unions and groups in San Diego, including the Democratic party.
Pedestrian killed in hit-and-run in Sherman Heights
A driver killed a pedestrian in a hit-and-run early on Sunday morning. The victim was dragged for about 100 feet by the driver on the 1800 block of Market Street in Sherman Heights before the driver fled the scene. The driver has reportedly been arrested after days of searching for a silver GMC Envoy SUV.
“No person should lose their life due to traffic violence while walking in San Diego,” said Maya Rosas, policy director for Circulate San Diego. “The driver must be found and held accountable for his actions.”
Museum of Man names new chief financial and operations officer
The San Diego Museum of Man has selected Erin Spiewak as its new chief financial and operations officer (CFO/COO). Spiewak assumed the role on Jan. 13, 2020, and will oversee finance, accounting, operations, and human resources on behalf of the museum.
“I am honored to join the Museum of Man and this team of remarkable people committed to engaging the community and being a leader in how we think about the world around us,” said Ms. Spiewak. “From exhibits that tell compelling stories that teach and inspire us, to the innovative approaches the museum is taking to engage new and frequent visitors, I look forward to contributing to the museum’s growth and future plans.”
An established leader in San Diego’s nonprofit sector, Spiewak most recently served as the chief executive officer of Monarch School, a unique K-12 institution serving youth experiencing homelessness. While at Monarch School, Ms. Spiewak oversaw an instrumental capital campaign, renovating and opening the school’s new Nat & Flora Bosa campus; grew the student body from 150 to 300 students, while expanding the staff from 19 to 40 team members; developed a state-of-the-art high school college career lab; and launched an annual fundraiser, which has raised more than $4 million since 2015.
Spiewak replaces Tabitha McMahon, who left the museum in June 2019 after nearly six years in the role.
San Diego Museum Month returns in February
San Diego Museum Month, one of Southern California’s most anticipated events of the winter season, will return in February 2020 for its 31st year. The San Diego Museum Council presents the annual program, which has earned national acclaim, to encourage visitors and locals alike to experience San Diego’s vibrant museum scene with special half-off admission at over 40 museums and cultural institutions throughout the county.
Local residents can pick up Museum Month passes at over 75 public libraries located throughout San Diego County.
Each Museum Month pass can be used for up to four half-priced admissions at any of the participating museums. Additional fees may apply for special exhibitions and events at some museums. Guests can use their Museum Month pass to visit as many museums as they would like from Feb. 1-29, 2020.
More information about Museum Month, including a full list of participating museums and upcoming exhibitions, can be found at sandiegomuseumcouncil.org.
San Diego Zoo celebrates birth of Andean bear cub
San Diego Zoo is celebrating the birth of an Andean bear cub, born at the zoo in the early morning hours of Jan. 8, 2020, to first-time mother Alba and sire, Turbo. Mother and cub are being closely monitored by animal care staff via a closed-circuit video camera, allowing Alba to care for her cub without interruption. The mortality rate for Andean bear cubs in their first month is high so the animal care staff is cautiously optimistic for the cub’s long-term survival.
“We are overjoyed about the birth of Alba’s first cub,” stated Chris Hamlin, animal care manager, San Diego Zoo. “Alba is showing all the appropriate behaviors of a good mother, being very attentive to her newborn. We are so impressed with how well she is handling motherhood.”
The birth of this cub is of great significance to conservation research. It will allow San Diego Zoo Global researchers and animal care staff the rare opportunity to learn about mother and cub interaction, and cub development. Very little is known about Andean bears in their native habitat. They are very shy and tend to avoid humans, making them hard for researchers to study.
San Diego Zoo Global has been studying Andean bears for more than 12 years, and since 2008 has worked with various partners to research and conserve bears in Peru, recently in southeast Peru in and near Manu National Park. The goal of San Diego Zoo Global’s Andean Bear Conservation Program is to help increase scientific knowledge about these bears to advance their conservation, to train and mentor Peruvian conservationists and to promote an understanding that the bears are worthy and integral parts of a healthy ecosystem.
Only a few zoos in the United States house Andean bears. The San Diego Zoo paired Alba and Turbo as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Andean bears are also called spectacled bears, named for the unique rings of white or light fur around their eyes. It is the last short-faced bear and the only bear species native to South America.
The zoo is also a part of other conservation work. In one week in January, the zoo raised more than $500,000 for Australian wildlife relief.
Coalition launches to end child poverty
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that roughly 40% of San Diego County’s children under age 12 lived below 200% the federal poverty level in 2017. This means more than 190,000 children experienced unequal access to healthy food, stable housing, reliable health care, and quality child care and early education.
To reduce these numbers, community leaders and local nonprofits and organizations have joined forces to form “San Diego for Every Child: The Coalition to End Child Poverty,” with the goal of cutting the experience of childhood poverty in the region in half by 2030. This is just the latest group of local nonprofits collaborating to better solve the region’s issues.
“San Diego families are struggling to navigate a confusing network of services and resources, and parents are forced to spend valuable time away from their children while trying to find the right solutions,” said Erin Hogeboom, director of San Diego for Every Child. “By thinking inclusively, collaboratively and strategically, we can collectively redirect our combined energies toward amplifying the solutions we know already work and identifying new ways to address the problem.”
San Diego for Every Child is chaired by community leader Sara Jacobs, who spent the last year developing the initiative and is funding its infrastructure for the next two years. She is also a candidate in the race to replace Representative Susan Davis.
“In a county as wealthy as San Diego, it is simply unacceptable that so many of our kids are experiencing poverty,” said Jacobs. “It is going to take all of us coming together to tackle this problem. With the ingenuity, innovation, and tenacity of our community, we can create a San Diego where all of our kids lead fulfilling and successful lives — ensuring a brighter future for the entire region.”
The coalition’s leadership consists of The Center on Policy Initiatives, Jewish Family Service of San Diego, the Parent Institute for Quality Education, and the YMCA Childcare Resource Service.
Serving Seniors celebrates 50 years
Serving Seniors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping low-income and homeless seniors throughout San Diego, is celebrating its 50th anniversary year in 2020. The milestone will be marked with events and celebrations throughout the year to honor senior clients, volunteers, staff and donors who help make programs and services possible for more than 5,000 seniors in need each year.
Founded in 1970, Serving Seniors has been at the forefront of senior issues in San Diego for half a century. From advocacy and mental health programming to housing and nutritional meal services, the organization has created a nationally recognized, innovative model of comprehensive services. In 2019, there were 644,099 meals served, 445 seniors housed and a total of 5,549 seniors overall who benefited from services and programs (an increase of 12% from 2018).
In light of the increasing demographics of seniors over the next decade, Serving Seniors is committed to supporting the crucial services that so many senior clients are dependent upon, and will be launching a $5 million fundraising campaign over the next five years.
Coinciding with the anniversary year, Serving Seniors’ President and CEO Paul Downey is celebrating 25 years with the organization. Since being appointed the role in 1995, Downey has guided the nonprofit’s innovative efforts, making Serving Seniors a national model for compassionate and life changing care for seniors in need.
Rose Schindler (left) holding the award from DA Summer Stephan. (Photo courtesy Office of DA Summer Stephan)
DA honors Holocaust survivor
“Stay alive so you can tell the world what they’re doing to us.”
Those were the last words Rose Schindler’s father told her when they last saw each other at Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp. And that is exactly what she did.
Rose survived the Holocaust, met her husband who was also a survivor and immigrated to the United States where they raised their family in San Diego. Now, at 90 years old, Rose has been sharing her and her husband’s story of survival and hope during public presentations and most recently through a published memoir, “The Two Who Survived.”
In early January, Rose spoke in front of more than 200 people at Francis Parker School, sharing her story with a new generation. At the event, District Attorney Summer Stephan also presented the first Community Justice Champion Award to Rose, for her tireless efforts to use her voice to help build a safe and healthy community.
“In the past year, the DA’s Office has seen an increase in hate crimes driven by anti-Semitism and targeting houses of worship,” said DA Summer Stephan. “Our mission is not only to prosecute crimes, but to prevent them from happening in the first place and Rose Schindler is having a real impact on the community by continuing to share her incredible story of surviving the Holocaust and spreading awareness about the devastating impact of hate. Mrs. Schindler is the epitome of a Community Justice Champion.”
The District Attorney’s Community Justice Champion Award honors individuals whose work or efforts directly or indirectly support the DA’s mission to build safe neighborhoods in partnership with the community and has an impact on equity, fairness and justice in society.
San Diego County Library had record-breaking digital year
San Diego County Library announced that it achieved a record-breaking 2 million digital book checkouts in 2019. This puts it in the top 25 public library systems worldwide in total digital circulation. This accomplishment illustrates the continued growth and importance of library lending of ebooks and audiobooks along with the creative ways the library has served its community with digital services. San Diego County Library is one of 73 systems around the world — including standalone libraries and consortia — that surpassed 1 million checkouts through Rakuten OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform and its award-winning app Libby.
San Diego County Library has been providing readers 24/7 access to ebooks and audiobooks for several years. Reader interest and usage has grown every year, reflecting popular trends and interests both locally and across the country. In 2019, the highest-circulating title across both formats that San Diego County Library readers borrowed through OverDrive was “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. This year’s “One Book, One San Diego” title, “The Great Believers,” was made available as an ebook option and downloaded more than 3,600 times.