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Community Highlights: Meet Tammy Tumbling of Orange County Community Foundation (OCCF)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tammy Tumbling.

Hi Tammy, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My family and I came from very humble beginnings. We relied on public assistance and applied for several financial and housing services. Some believe that these services don’t necessarily work, but they do because I am their product. I am also a product of my mom, who was devoted to her children and whose support remained unwavering. I was 17 and living with my mom and four siblings in Compton, Calif., when I gave birth to my son.

Ten days later, I started my senior year of high school. I would take public transportation at 5 a.m. to La Habra High School every morning – it was at least an hour and a half each way. I have vivid memories of my mom walking with me and waiting at the bus stop until my bus arrived because she was afraid for my safety. It was a tough neighborhood, and as the bus pulled away and I watched her through the hazy window, I worried about her walking back alone. I learned at a young age about being courageous and that my mom has always been my most significant champion. My mom taught me how to be a good mother – compassionate, empathetic, fearless — but I didn’t realize how early I’d implement those lessons learned with my son and siblings. My mom passed away when I was 19 and a freshman at Cal State Dominguez Hills. I immediately took legal guardianship of my siblings and worked three jobs to support them, myself and my son. After six long years of hard work through those trials and tribulations, I received my business degree, followed by a master’s in public administration. To this day, second to being a parent – it is one of the proudest moments in my lifetime.

I’m where I am today because I didn’t stop and had a village that helped raise me through love, compassion, community support and public assistance. When my little boy’s eyes looked up at me for the first time, I knew I had a job to do. My job was to make sure I could be the best parent and role model. I never wanted him to look at me with embarrassment or shame or say that I wasn’t good enough. I challenged the stereotypes society tried to place on me as a young mother, stayed focused, and am fortunate enough to create a lasting impact personally and professionally in my community.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
As a teen mom, I had many people look at me as if I wasn’t going to make it. They said I wouldn’t finish high school, I wouldn’t go to college, and that I’d have more children out of wedlock. But again, I stayed focused because I believed in myself enough to know that I possessed enough intellect and ambition to be successful, even more so because I had a child. I’ve learned that the world will quickly try to define you, and if you let it, you’ll fail.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Orange County Community Foundation (OCCF)?
I am the executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Orange County Community Foundation (OCCF) under the tremendous leadership of our president and CEO, Shelley Hoss. OCCF is the center of gravity for philanthropic giving in Orange County and partners with donors who want to make contributions that support their communities. OCCF has awarded nearly $870 million in grants and scholarships that focus on areas like homelessness, education, the environment, and more. We are the third most active Grantmaker among more than 750 community foundations in the nation.

One of the initiatives we’re most proud of is our iheartOC Collaborative Giving Days – ten cause-specific days where nonprofits come together to tackle the greatest challenges community members face. Donors passionate about a cause can now contribute to the goals of several nonprofit organizations with similar missions, instead of just the one they’re familiar with. Since 2015, we’ve raised more than $15 million for local nonprofits.

Another great initiative and resource for the community is OC Nonprofit Central, Orange County’s only online database with in-depth information on more than 600 local nonprofit organizations throughout the country. We’re thrilled that it promotes nonprofits and helps donors decide who they’re giving to and where. This is just one example of the initiatives I help oversee.

In my role, I’m responsible for the organization’s business planning, program management and operations oversight, along with philanthropic strategy. I am heavily involved with the oversight of many community programs and initiatives associated with the Foundation. I also lead the review our technology capabilities to ensure that they meet the 21st century standards and evolution of next-gen giving. For example, I am currently leading a major system conversion, automatization of manual processes, refreshing our website, and more. We’ve even started to look at things like cryptocurrency so donors can give through alternative means – this has become more and more relevant in the philanthropic landscape.

I also provide oversight and direction to the Foundation’s Marketing and Communications team as well as People and Culture.  I believe that you can’t do anything without the right people in the right seats and ensuring that you’re developing talent.  I also believe in ensuring that a high-performing team is diverse in thought, age, ethnicity, and gender identity to name a few.  We will always make our employees our top priority at OCCF.  I truly believe that with the right talent plus diversity, we will always meet and exceed our goals.

What’s next?
For one, I look forward to OCCF reaching its bold and ambitious goal of $1 billion in cumulative granting by 2024. Once achieved, we will become one of only 35 community foundations in the U.S. to reach this milestone. I also look forward to continuing to advance the framework of our business and philanthropic strategies. Under the leadership of Shelley Hoss and our Board of Governors, celebrating diversity and serving diverse communities are also very important elements of who we are at the Foundation.   In 2020, I started the African American Alliance Fund (AAAF) in response to the senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the social injustice African Americans experience — whether seen publicly or not. I wanted to raise awareness about what the Foundation is doing in response to social inequalities in Orange County and surrounding communities. OCCF has undoubtedly been a great ally and co-founder of the Fund. The AAAF was started by my initial personal contribution of $25,000 and has grown to more than $425,000 in contributions – thanks to our generous donors. The grants have focused on education, health, human services, economic opportunity, civic engagement, professional development, and more.  As of Juneteenth 2022 – two years after the start of AAAF, over $352,000 has been granted to 31 Black led or Black serving nonprofit organizations in and around Orange County.  The African American Alliance Fund also paved the way for the creation of the CSUF Black Student Scholarship Fund, Council of African American Parents Fund and the Pearls of Excellence Foundation Fund which are funds that specifically serve the Black community.  These are indeed exciting and transformational times at the Orange County Community Foundation.

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