NationSwell is kicking off 2020 with a series that looks back on our biggest moments of impact from 2019. In our third installment, we’re delighted to celebrate four NSC members joining the board of the Children’s Council of San Francisco. 

In July 2019, Anna Nordberg Thompson became board chair of the Children’s Council of San Francisco, where she was tasked with growing the board during a pivotal time for the organization. Below, she shares how being a part of the NationSwell Council helped her support her 2019 goals.

NationSwell: Tell us about why you joined the Children’s Council of San Francisco. Why is its mission so critical?

Anna Nordberg Thompson: Both of our kids were born premature and we were lucky enough to have resources and live in an area where we could access excellent medical care, excellent childcare and a wonderful preschool for both of our kids, who are now five and seven and these robust little nuggets. Going through that experience, I saw both the power of early intervention and I felt the agony of what would it be like to be in a position where you didn’t have access to that kind of care. That really brought home for the importance of early education — those early years are essential for neurologic and social development. But for most parents in this country, finding support during those years is private problem, and its creating a real readiness gap that persists through K-12.  I’m passionate about kids, about childcare — and I really don’t think we can fix our K-12 education system without investing heavily in early childhood.What the Children’s Council does is help families find and afford quality childcare in San Francisco. We connect families with the childcare that fits their needs through intensive counseling and resource and referral.

NS: How has being a part of the NSC helped you in this mission? 

ANT: I met with my community manager and shared that one of my big priorities as new board chair to build the board. He let me know that the NSC was launching a new project, to try and connect members who were interested in board service with members who were serving on boards and looking to recruit new members. He ended up connecting me with probably 15 people that resulted in 11 conversations and we now have four new board members. If you’re familiar with onboarding new board members to nonprofits, and it’s a big process and it’s a big time commitment and a lot of people go through it and decide, “I love what this organization does but I can’t commit to this right now.” So, to find four new board members from one network or organization is pretty extraordinary. And the four we have really come from a range of industry backgrounds. Chris Thomas is head of nonprofit engagement at SalesForce. Victoria Fram is a female cofounder of a VC (VilCap Investments), Omar Butler is the CEO of a nonprofit, New Door Ventures, one George Israel is in private wealth management at UBS and his wife is a developmental pediatrician (so he’s very connected to the issue through that).

NS: We’re so thrilled for you! What a great group. What does the future hold for the board and for the CCSF, and what are you hoping to celebrate as a result of this board growth?

ANT: We have a new CEO, we’re starting a strategic planning process and a it’s pivotal time for early childhood in the Bay area and nationwide. California governor Gavin Newsom has signaled how important childcare is to him. And it’s an exciting time: paid parental leave is finally gaining steam — it’s about the only bipartisan issue there is on Capitol Hill right now. So these issues at least are getting more awareness even though there’s so much more that needs to be done.

And we’ve already seen real strategic planning in our board meetings. I’m already seeing those new points of view help shape the discussion in powerful ways. Victoria, as a female co-founder, has a lot of understanding of how hard it is for women in the business world who are trying to manage childcare and their careers and those challenges. Chris at Salesforce has a really strong sense of how different platforms might support our work. So my hope is that with these new board members, we can really continue to raise our profile and connect with people in San Francisco who understand that childcare is a equity issue and a social justice issue, in addition to an incredibly spicy issue for every family dealing with it, regardless of income. Childcare is a challenge for every family, every parent I know — it’s something they’re always working on or trying to solve a problem in or they’re so happy in a situation they’re in and just hoping that it lasts. I think that our NationSwell members can bring is new networks and new people who are ready to care about this issue and need to just be informed about it. With their perspective on what our core focus areas of our strategic plan should be and how we’re going to achieve them,

NationSwell is always trying to learn more about how we’ve supported our Council members in their efforts to make the world a better place. If we helped you, we’d love to hear more about it. Let us know.