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Wednesday, Jul 24, 2024

Nonprofit Profile , Dress for Success San Diego

Sylvia McKinney, Executive Director

Mission of organization: Dress for Success San Diego promotes the economic independence of low-income women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools to help them succeed in their job interviews, thrive in the workplace and build a brighter future for themselves.

Telephone: (619) 281-3773.

Web site: www.dressforsuccess.org.

Founded: 1998 as “Suits You San Diego.”

Milestone: 4,500 low-income women served (referred by more than 40 local health and human service organizations).

Annual income: $71,000.

Expense allocation: 94 percent programs/services and 6 percent administration.

Corporate support: 19 percent comes from corporate sponsors.

Corporate supporters: Union Bank of California, Macy’s, Qualcomm Inc., San Diego National Bank, MoneyTree, AT & T;, Monster.com, Avon, Robert Half International, Kimpton Hotel Group.

Board chairwoman: Lisa Schalon.

Board members: Lorraine Iverson, Betty Ann Field, Cherie Scott, Cassi Fay, Sandy McConnaughy.

Employees: One.

Volunteers: 15.

Events: “Go for the Glam” Boutique Fashions and Fund Raiser, hosted by Hotel Solamar from 6 to 9 p.m., April 19. “Art with Heart & #153;” Art Fair and Festival, 1 to 7 p.m., June 16, in Kensington.

Wish list: Funding for special size women’s suits and blouses, printing services for literature, new business appropriate women’s shoes (large sizes urgently needed), new (unopened) hair and skin care products, new business appropriate purses.


Recent challenge: Stretching limited resources to accommodate an increase in referrals of clients younger than 20 years old.

Measures of success: Clients who gain employment and make strides toward economic self-sufficiency and a better quality of life for their children and families.

Smartest move: Accepting the gracious invitation from Christ United Methodist Church to move our facilities to their complex in North Park.

Missed opportunity: I do my best to seize every opportunity to benefit our mission.

Misconception: That Dress for Success San Diego provides only clothing to low-income women, when, in fact, we offer consultation, support programs and access to partner services for interview preparation, job retention, career building and life management.


Personal path to nonprofit work: A victim of domestic violence in my native Scotland more than 25 years ago, I escaped with my children and no money, no extra clothes and no possessions. The compassion of strangers at a safe house provided sanctuary and fueled my desire to help empower women to overcome domestic and economic hardship. In the ensuing years, I built the personal foundation of education and business skills necessary to launch a charitable organization.

Toughest aspect: Fund raising in a highly competitive environment.

Most surprising aspect: The delightful “surprise” expressed by clients when they view their transformation in the mirror after their first wardrobe consultation.

Biggest pain: Too much paperwork!

Greatest pleasure: Being part of a team of passionate volunteers and community supporters.


Best recent moment: The wedding of my daughter to her soul mate, best friend and “man of her dreams.”

Worst recent moment: A burst pipe that flooded my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon!

Dream for another life: To be a multilingual world traveler.

Greatest inspiration: My father, William Evans, a man with strong morals, high integrity and an inspiring work ethic.

Downtime: I recharge my batteries by enjoying the beauty, serenity and wonder of nature.

Causes: Domestic violence; issues affecting women and children; Habitat for Humanity.


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