Q&A with Kevin Crawford, President & CEO, United Way of San Diego County
Over his years as a community leader, Kevin Crawford has worn many hats: Fire Chief, City Manager and now President & CEO of United Way of San Diego County. After six months in his new role leading the 94-year-old nonprofit, it was time for a few questions…
How does your current job compare to your past leadership roles?
What strikes me as the heart of all the jobs is this: serving the community. What changes is the team you are on and the way you serve. But the theme of service and what compels me to add benefit, both as an individual and collectively as a community – that is all the same.
What does United Way contribute that makes it so unique?
Our role as problem solver. We are in the business of identifying what needs to change and convening the people necessary to make that change happen. As a United Way Board member, I chaired the Education Vision Council – a group of experts in the field who really understood what it takes to improve children’s literacy. That is what United Way does best: We measure, analyze and measure again before we strategically invest in the people and resources that can ensure positive results.
What do you envision for United Way’s future in San Diego?
I see United Way playing an even more significant role. Using the Collective Impact approach, where individuals and organizations share the same goals and the same ways to measure success – we are already seeing great results. From the South Bay to North County, United Way is leading or collaborating on some of the most breakthrough ways to improve the community. Thanks to Collective Impact, vision screenings were coordinated for 5,000 City Heights students. That meant 500 new pairs of glasses … and one life-saving intervention for a child with an undetected tumor. It took collaboration, shared resources and solid communication all working toward the same goal. That is the beauty of Collective Impact. This approach is spreading across the county and we have already been approached about expanding our collective impact work to other regions.
Why are you such a big believer in everyone investing in the community?
Because we really are all in this together. Every single one of us needs to give back. If we don’t, it won’t get better. We all benefit from community engagement. We need to leave our community better than we found it. I can’t think of a better way to acknowledge the privilege of living in San Diego than investing in its future.