Monthly Archives: August 2023
Austin Martin is the Founder and CEO of Rhymes With Reason, an online learning platform that helps young people learn words while building literacy in various areas such as English Language Arts, Entrepreneurship, Workforce Development and Civics via popular music. His organization has worked with over 200 schools and afterschool programs across the United States to date, with a large presence in Detroit, MI, Philadelphia, PA, and Los Angeles, CA. Austin’s own educational trajectory is the inspiration behind his organization’s mission. His deep investment in hip-hop music and its illustrious vocabulary gave him the opportunity to excel as a reader, writer and communicator.
Born and raised here in San Diego, Austin went on to Brown University, and later got his Masters in Education from Harvard. He credits his parents and grandparents for inspiring him to be involved with facilitating marginalized communities as they worked in education and healthcare. He was listed as Forbes 2020 30 Under 30 in education, Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Fellow, International Literacy Association’s 30 Under 30 Global Nominee, and was the Harvard Social Impact Fellowship Fund Awardee.
Austin thanks his sponsors Michael Brunker, Jordan Harrison and Duke Sobek.
Associations-United Way of San Diego
Nancy Sasaki has been the President and CEO of United Way San Diego County since 2018. She has led a long tenure within the nonprofit industry as the former Executive Director of Alliance Healthcare Federation, a thirty year career with Planned Parenthood in Austin, TX, San Diego and Los Angeles, CA, and in Hawaii. She currently sits on the board of directors of the Regional Taskforce on Homelessness, the San Diego Workforce Partnership Policy Board, and 2-1-1- San Diego.
Nancy graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with her Masters in Education in Community Health. She has an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Cal State, San Marcos, was Business Woman of the Year in 2019 and 2022, named as one of 50 Making a Difference, and was the 2022 Asian Business Association Community Leader recipient.
She has a daughter and son-in-law who live in Austin, TX. You can find Nancy playing tennis regularly as well as beach volleyball.
Nancy thanks her sponsors Michael Brunker, Gil Johnson and Glenn Rossman.
Museum-Women’s Museum of California
Laura Mitchell, Executive Director of the Women’s Museum of California, has over thirty years of experience in academic, educational and cultural institutions. Before serving in her current role, Laura was the Executive Director of the Visions Museum of Textile Art, Director of Advancement for the Hong Kong Academy, as a consultant for Plan. Fund. Create. in Hong Kong and Washington DC, as President of the Luther Institute as well as a Historian and Project Coordinator at the National Museum of American History for the Smithsonian.
Whether living in DC, Hong Kong or San Diego, Laura has always been an active member of clubs and organizations that make community service their focal point. She has served on the board for the San Diego Museum Council, the Vesper Society, and Adventures in Preservation. She has also volunteered for, or been a member of, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the East Asia Regional Council of Schools.
Laura was born in Los Angeles, CA, and graduated from Pomona College with a BA in economics before earning her PhD. in American history from Yale. She loves music, art and classic film as well as green tea. She has two daughters and two dogs.
Laura thanks her sponsors Andrea da Rosa, Ray Simas and Corey Polant.
Michael Hennessy is from a small town in Minnesota where he stayed through medical school at the University of Minnesota. He and his now wife of 49 years moved first to Boston, then to San Diego for Michael to serve two years at Camp Pendleton. After twenty years of practice here they moved to Great Falls, Montana. Michael and his wife, also a doctor, moved back to San Diego after opening a surgical center and then a hospital in Montana. They now are fully retired and live here full time.
Michael was one of the founding members of the Mercy Outreach Surgical Team. He has volunteered with many organizations including Hospital Ruanguba in Zaire, Habitat for Humanity, and has done volunteer surgery in Kenya, Guatemala, Mexico, and Congo.
Michael and his wife have three adult children.
Michael thanks his sponsors Mike Meaney, Doug Arbon and Lisa Miller.
Tonya Torosian is the CEO of Promises2Kids, a 41-year-old nonprofit founded as the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation. This organization is dedicated to creating a brighter future for the more than 200,000 foster children it serves, and the communities where they live.
Tonya grew up in Maddison, Wisconsin, in a community service minded family where she learned the importance of social work. She went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Social Welfare, and later Arizona State, with a MSW in Administration. Her passion has been to support children who have been the victims of abuse and neglect. She has spent the past 25 years in San Diego doing just that.
She and her wife adopted a son, who is now six-years-old, who would have most likely gone into foster care.
Tonya thanks her sponsors Mary Colacicco, Valerie Attisha and Chris Graham.