photos by Soul of Photography and Tyler McElhaney

The Del Mar Foundation Strives to Improve Life in Our Community.

In Del Mar, we have some great resources available right at our fingertips. But how exactly do our community programs, events, open spaces, beaches and parks get the extra attention and funding they need to maintain the upkeep of these treasures? That’s where the Del Mar Foundation steps in. As Del Mar’s oldest 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the foundation sponsors programs, makes grants, and manages endowment funds to benefit our community. Perhaps most known for their community programs like the Summer Twilight concerts, First Thursdays cultural arts series, Easter Egg Hunt and 4th of July Parade, the Del Mar Foundation strives to make life better for all of us. We talked with Karen Wilson, Executive Director, about the history, current projects, and future of the organization. So next time you are enjoying some of the little things that makes living here so special, you’ll know the people who help make it that much better.

Q&A with Karen Wilson, Executive Director

What is the history behind the Del Mar Foundation (DMF)? How many years has the DMF been active?
The Del Mar Foundation was established in 1982 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Originally it was meant to support the Del Mar Days celebration, a multi-day community event with a parade, athletic competitions, music, arts and crafts, food, a self guided historical walking tour, sand castling, and more. Very quickly, however, it became apparent to the original group that a permanent organization could offer more to the citizens of Del Mar and the surrounding community. This included a wide array of activities and resources beyond what the municipal government could afford.

Who has been instrumental in the development and execution of the DMF?
We owe our existence to many dedicated, community-oriented Del Marians, starting with former Del Mar City Council Member Lou Terrell, Joel Holiday, and Bill Kirwin, who were the first organizers of Del Mar Days. Since 1982, the Del Mar Foundation has enjoyed strong leadership at the board level, growing to include 15 board members and nine committees and a whole army of volunteers. We conservatively estimate that since 2005, more than 24,000 volunteer hours have contributed to the success of our organization and the benefit of our community.

What is the purpose of DMF? How does DMF help the community and community at large?
The Del Mar Foundation primarily serves the 92014 Del Mar community in a way that improves the lives of residents of all ages. Specifically, we sponsor programs that bring people together – at concerts, at children’s events, at a free speaker’s series. We also provide grant money to support other community organizations and projects. Most recently we funded state-of-the-art wheelchairs to support wounded military members as they surf at our 17th street beach. We also act as fiscal sponsor for other Del Mar nonprofits and community projects including the Del Mar Library Mosaic Wall and the Del Mar Historical Society. We currently manage over $2 million in endowment and operating reserve funds. This includes separate funds for the San Dieguito Lagoon and the Del Mar Historical Society’s Alvarado House.

What are some past examples of projects completed by DMF?
If you haven’t seen the Del Mar Library Mosaic Wall, it is worth taking the time to pay it a visit. This iconic wall is a whimsical and joyous artwork created by local artist Betsy Schulz and implemented by our own garden celebrity Pat Welsh. The Library Wall was in dire need of restoration work and needed an organization to manage the process and activate the community to provide financial support. The Del Mar Foundation had been involved in raising money for the original construction and so it was an easy decision to help out again. The project was completed in November and we are so pleased with the results and the knowledge that this is a lasting legacy to the community.
In recent years, we donated funds towards the purchase of Del Mar Shores Park, provided significant funding to the new Lifeguard Tower and Beach Safety Center, contributed to the Del Mar Community Connections computer lab for seniors, provided beach access bike racks, funded the beautification of the Del Mar Post Office grounds through the Del Mar Garden Club, and provided scholarships to the Junior Lifeguard program, to name a few.
In 2012 we were approached by the City of Del Mar to see if we were interested in taking over the vacant building owned by the City at 225 9th Street in Del Mar. The building previously had been used as the offices of the Del Mar Union School District, but had been vacant for a number of years. Together with the Del Mar Community Connections, the Del Mar Foundation remodeled the space using mostly volunteer labor and moved our offices to the building. It is now a cheery, active community resource with offices, a computer lab, a kitchen, a meeting room and a lounge area available for use by community organizations.

Cover3How did the community make these projects possible?
An organization is only as strong as the individuals who support it. The Del Mar Foundation has been very fortunate in this respect.
When we started the Community Endowment in 2007, support from the community was tremendous. More than 50 individuals – our Founding Endowment Circle – gave between $10,000 and $50,000 to launch the fund. In 2011, we started a new campaign, the 30th Anniversary Community Endowment Campaign. The goal of the Endowment is to enable us to guarantee a permanent level of funding for ongoing programs and to grant funds to other community organizations.
Further support comes from many individuals – and local businesses – that give generously throughout the year or underwrite our programs and events. We are so thankful for all of our donors and volunteers!

Please elaborate the role of the Del Mar Foundation with the Lagoon Endowment.
Since 2004, the Foundation has managed a Lagoon Enhancement Endowment for the San Dieguito River Valley Joint Powers Authority (SDRV-JPA). The purpose of this fund is to provide maintenance funds for the lagoon in the future, when Southern California Edison’s responsibility for the performance and maintenance of the restored wetland ends (anticipated in 2050), and maintenance of the lagoon becomes the responsibility of the SDRV- JPA.

The DMF puts on many popular events for the Del Sol communities. What events are most popular?
Our free summer Twilight Concert series is beloved by people from all over San Diego County. Each concert attracts up to 4,000 people who picnic, dance and enjoy the music in the park as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. It’s a great event for all ages. Planning for the 2014 season has already begun and business sponsorships are available.

Do you have any upcoming events or fundraisers that you would like to share with the community and community at large?
Thank you for asking! We are fundraising for the 2014 season and welcome contributions of any size. Donations can be made using the “donate” button at or by using the pledge form at
Anyone wanting additional information can reach our office at 858-635-1363.

Please tell us about your children’s and cultural arts programs and playgroups.
We have a number of great events coming up in 2014! To launch the new year musically, we are presenting a Bluegrass and Beyond concert on Jan. 24 featuring Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, and another one on March 9 featuring the Claire Lynch Band. Tickets will go on sales shortly. On Jan. 27 our DMF Talks speaker series continues with Dr. William Fenical of the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. On April 13 we welcome everyone to join us for our Annual Earth Day Clean Up.
For our young Del Mar families, we offer our Annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 19 and we provide playgroups which meet on Tuesdays and every other Saturday in the nursery at St. Peter’s Church. More information is available on our website.

How does one apply for a grant?
The first step would be to call our office at 858-635-1363. I would be happy to help get the process started and to connect the grant applicant with the right advisor.

The DMF has an informative newsletter for the community to keep in the know. How does one view this newsletter?
This is a timely question as we are right now in the process of “going green,” which means transitioning away from our printed version to an online version of our newsletter. We have provided a link to the fall newsletter at For anyone interested in receiving our newsletter in the future, please go to our website and add your name to our email list.


As Del Mar’s oldest nonprofit, what do you believe makes DMF so successful?
We truly believe that Del Mar is one of those unique places on earth, a confluence of stunning nature and remarkable people. As this community’s Foundation, we are committed to taking what is provided by nature, enhancing and preserving it, and connecting it to the people in our community and beyond. We focus on people, bringing them together in a meaningful way, and encouraging our community’s health and well being in a broad sense.

 Do you have a “storefront”? If so, where can you be found?
We are very happy to announce that as of August 2012, we share a wonderful facility with another Del Mar nonprofit, Del Mar Community Connections. The Del Mar Community Building or DMCB is located at 225 9th Street in the Del Mar Village. We welcome drop-in visits.

Del Sol magazine also touches Solana Beach. In what ways can Solana Beach residents benefit from DMF?
As neighbors sharing access to and responsibility for the San Dieguito lagoon, our relationship is very important. As beach communities, we share many of the same goals in terms of our missions. Our Twilight Concerts are also a summer favorite for many Solana Beach residents.

Is there anything you would like to add for our readers to learn more about?
Actually, I’d like to ask a favor of your readers. Would they please share their ideas, suggestions, and improvements with us? We seek to grow and improve in how we serve the community and we welcome input.


Karen Wilson At A Glance

Name: Karen Wilson
Community: Del Mar
Profession: Executive Director
Education: MA in Leadership Studies with specialization in Nonprofit Management
Family Information: 2 children
Contact Information: 858-635-1363
Hobbies/Interests: Hiking, mosaic, slow food

Meet Two Couples that Help to Make the DMF Possible

With their initial endowment, Joel and Rosanne Holliday and Lynn and Charlie Gaylord helped the Del Mar Foundation get the traction to become as successful as it is to this day.

Cover_Joel_RosanneQ&A with Donors Joel and Rosanne Holliday

How did you make the decision to be a major donor of the Del Mar Foundation?
With three generations of our family living in Del Mar, we enjoy giving back to a community that has been a wonderful place for our children and grandchildren to live.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a result of your efforts with the Del Mar Foundation?
The establishment of a growing endowment and a core of generous supporters who give of their time and funds to support the work of the DMF.

If you could grant the community one wish, what would that be?
That the community comes together and joins in an expansive vision of how to continue enriching our town, for the benefit of young and old who cherish living here.

Where are some of your favorite places to go around the community?
The beach, Torrey Pines Park, and gatherings of long-time friends.

Joel and Rosanne Holliday At A Glance

Names: Joel and Rosanne Holliday
Ages: Joel – 74; Rosanne – 74
Community: City of Del Mar, in the same house for 40 years
Volunteer Affiliations: Joel – Del Mar Foundation Board and president in the past.
Rosanne – Past affiliations and/or founding member: Planned Parenthood, Scripps College, Del Mar Garden Club, Women Give San Diego, DMF board and was chair of the board
Current affiliations: Sandpiper (fundraising volunteer), Holliday Family Foundation (president).
About: Joel and Rosanne have been married for fifty years. Rosanne has also been on the Board, and at one time was president of the Del Mar Foundation. We have two children,
Will Holliday and Katherine Holliday Sohn, both of whom live in Del Mar with their families. Joel is currently president of the Charles Lee Powell Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports engineering schools at several California universities. Professor Emerita Rosanne taught psychology and child development at Southwestern College for twenty-seven years, and is currently retired.

Cover_Charlie_LynnQ&A with Donors Charlie and Lynn Gaylord

How did you make the decision to be a major donor of the Del Mar Foundation?
Del Mar is an incredibly wonderful place to live and we can’t imagine any better way to give back to our community than through the Del Mar Foundation. Besides granting to worthy causes in town like our programs for senior citizens, our beautiful library, our Powerhouse, our parks and open spaces, The Del Mar Foundation brings people and families together in so many important ways. There are the Summer Twilight Concerts, First Thursdays, Del Mar Talks, July 4th Parades, holiday events, and many children’s programs. It’s a donation we made feeling as though we were touching many, many parts of the community. The Del Mar Foundation is our community foundation.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a result of your efforts with the Del Mar Foundation?
Perhaps what I am most proud of is starting the Cultural Arts Committee in 2000 with a group of other very dedicated Del Mar Foundation members. Together we had a vision to fill the newly renovated Powerhouse with cultural events. We started with “First Thursdays,” a program which brought musical groups and speakers to the community. From there we added children’s programming, holiday events, parades, end-of-summer picnics, and much, much more. All of these ideas have evolved into separate committees within the Foundation today and rely completely on our community volunteers. The Cultural Arts Committee presently sponsors “First Thursdays” with a continually sold-out subscription list. The committee is a vibrant, always evolving, open group of Del Mar citizens who bring program ideas to the table from jazz, to bluegrass to Mainly Mozart. It is a fun way to be involved in the community. I encourage anyone interested in joining to go to and click on Cultural Arts.

If you could grant the community one wish, what would that be?
Our only wish for the community is that we continue to have such wonderfully giving residents and city employees who love Del Mar! It’s a great little town to live and work.

Where are some of your favorite places to go around the community?
Besides dining in our many great outdoor restaurants around town, we love to walk our dog, Barley, on our beautiful beaches and visit with friends and their dogs at the Shores property. There is always something wonderful going on around Del Mar.

Charlie and Lynn Gaylord At A Glance

Names: Charlie and Lynn Gaylord
Ages: Charlie – 68, Lynn – 66
Community Residence: Beach Colony in Del Mar
Volunteer Affiliations: Del Mar Foundation committees, Friends of the Powerhouse Board, the Del Mar Historical Society, and several other volunteer groups
About: Lynn is a retired journalist and school teacher, loves to write and read family history, travel to exotic places, and play with her four grandchildren who live in the area. She and her husband, Charlie, moved to southern California in 1990 when he was asked to head up a small start-up company ChipSoft, which made a product called TurboTax. Their lives have never been the same!

Del Mar Foundation 2014 Board Members

Richard Bockoff
Robin Crabtree
Karla Deerinck
Robert Gans, Secretary
Judd Halenza, Vice President
Michael Halpern
Kelley Huggett
Carolyn Kling
Steve Lutz
Jill Weitzen MacDonald, President
Tom McCarthy
Julie Maxey-Allison
Carol Ostroff, Treasurer
Donna Shaw
T.Pat Stubbs

Del Mar Foundation At A Glance

Name of Organization: Del Mar Foundation
Year of Establishment: 1982
Phone: 858-635-1363
Board Meeting Information: Last Thursday of each month at 8 a.m.
Mission Statement: The mission of the Del Mar Foundation is to promote civic pride and cohesiveness, acquire and preserve open space, improve beaches and parklands, raise and grant funds, and sponsor diverse cultural programs and community events in Del Mar.