A Day in the Life: Community Relations Manager Nhu Tran

You don’t have to be a Buffett or a Gates to make a difference. For some people, like SDG&E Community Relations Manager Nhu Tran, philanthropy is in their DNA. A trailblazer in crafting innovative new approaches for philanthropic partnerships, Tran stays connected with more than 300 non-profit organizations that provide STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education programs that promote youth development to build healthier communities today and for future generations.  

Engineering change

It’s a drizzly Wednesday morning as Tran cruises down the freeway in her white, all-electric Chevy Spark. Her first stop: connecting with downtown nonprofit partners and community leaders at the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Historic Gaslamp Quarter to support local economic development and unique opportunities that lead to a thriving community.

“Whether it’s supporting organizations that are focused on engineering change in our neighborhoods or volunteering as a youth mentor, I feel fortunate to be able to integrate my values with my profession to make an impact in the community,” says Tran.

After her first meeting of the morning, Tran hops back in her EV and heads to the Elementary Institute of Science (EIS), a hands-on learning center that offers after-school and weekend programs to inspire an interest in STEM for students in southeast San Diego. 

Over the last decade, careers in science and engineering have outpaced other industries, with San Diego leading the charge as one of the top SMART cities in these fields. Tran’s passion for education—specifically for programs that open doors for young boys and girls in underserved communities—is the driving force behind her management of SDG&E’s Inspiring Future Leaders, an annual giving initiative designed to empower youth and help chart a course to pursue STEM careers.

A holistic approach to education and mentorship in STEM

By mid-afternoon, Tran is heading back downtown for her bi-monthly mentorship session with her “little sister” Gloria, in what she considers one of the highlights of her day. For the last 18 months, Tran has volunteered for the Big Brothers Big Sister’s Beyond School Walls program, which pairs 7th and 8th grade students from Logan Heights with engineers, IT specialists, accountants and other STEM-based professionals from SDG&E and its parent company, Sempra Energy.

“Education programs focusing on inspiring our youth are essential,” says Tran. “But we have to look at the whole picture, which means providing these children with access to positive role models who can help them shape their interests and envision a successful future.”

Sustainability and a STEM-ready workforce

As the workday winds down, Tran’s evening is just picking up. She swaps out her own EV for SDG&E’s colorful Power Your Drive all-electric LEAF, which she will put on display during that evening’s Innovation in Education awards ceremony hosted by Classroom of the Future Foundation. The annual event honors educators who have dedicated their careers to redefining student engagement with cutting-edge programs that make a profound impact on education.

“It’s an honor to support the community and make an impact on the lives of young children and their families,” says Tran. “At the end of the day, I know I’ve done everything I can to make sure San Diego students—including my own daughters—have the tools and support that will enable them to follow the STEM path to meaningful and fulfilling careers.”

As Tran travels back up the freeway toward home in her clean-driving Spark, she looks back at the day behind her feeling accomplished knowing the relationships she nurtured today will help create a brighter tomorrow for San Diego and our next generation of STEM leaders.

This is part of a series of articles about SDG&E’s Community Relations team.