Nancy McPherson – Week 10: 30-in-30 Honoree

We are proud to honor Nancy McPherson as one of Southern California Leadership Network’s 30-in-30. Nancy, an alum of Leadership Southern California 2016, is the State Director for AARP. Two years ago Nancy was enticed to move back to her home state as the interim state director for AARP, and the challenge became inspiration. She was responsible for creating a new vision for AARP’s work, new relationships with state leaders, and burgeoning work in local communities – skills that are now honed in Leadership Southern California’s revised curriculum focused on leading collaboration and building strategic partnerships. Continue reading below to learn first hand about her leadership journey.

Two years ago, my boss called to ask me to serve as interim state director in California for three months while a national search was completed for the new state leader. I loved my post 2005 hurricane work in Louisiana, but the opportunity to reconnect in my home state for a short time enticed me west.

Three months of intense organizational work turned into nine, and by then I was hooked by the challenge — a new state structure, new roles and responsibilities for staff and volunteers, a new management team, a new vision for the work we would do, new relationships with state leaders, and burgeoning work in local communities, which was a new approach for our organization, long known for its advocacy muscle at the federal and state level. With the Louisiana team thriving, I threw my hat in the ring and became California’s next state director.

The first order of business was to move our leadership team to our office in Pasadena, where the largest number of our staff work, and within Los Angeles County, where more than 700,000 of our 3.3 million California members reside. One of our national board members encouraged me to look into programs led by the LA Chamber, previously a partner for our organization on redistricting.  There I discovered SCLN.  I applied and was accepted into the SCLN program where I met diverse, smart, visionary, thoughtful, dedicated leaders doing amazing work and experienced a relevant program that was focused, engaging, and provocative and deepened my understanding of the region’s political, cultural, and social fabric. I feel so strongly about the value of SCLN that two members of my management team are soon to be alumnus and I will continue to offer this growth and development opportunity to other members of our team.