ENCINITAS — When Peggy Pico agreed to speak at a nonprofit fundraiser in Encinitas in April, little did she know it would change the trajectory of her career.
Pico, a veteran broadcast journalist, served as the mistress of ceremonies for the English Tea, an annual fundraiser for the Community Resource Center, a nonprofit charged with eliminating homelessness and protecting victims of domestic violence.
Before the event, she agreed to visit the Encinitas-based nonprofit’s headquarters, a step she said she rarely took with speaking engagements.
The visit struck a nerve, she said.
“What really struck me was the dignity with which they treated their clients,” Pico said. “I wanted to be a part of it.”
Flash forward a month, and CRC recently announced the hiring of Pico as the director of development.
“We are delighted to welcome Peggy Pico to our team,” CRC CEO Isabel St. Germain Singh said. “As a well-known and highly respected public figure, Peggy will bring her experience and enthusiasm to help connect more people to CRC’s important work in San Diego County.”
Pico, in her new role, will oversee the organization’s fundraising efforts and support programs.
Pico, who started May 8, spoke excitedly about her new role and the organization, which she said connected to her on a personal level.
“I’m so excited, I’m just a bit giddy,” she said in an interview May 19.
Before her journalism career that took her from TV stations in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Arizona, Texas and locally, Pico (who had a career as a registered nurse before journalism) survived homelessness and income insecurity growing up in San Diego.
Pico spoke candidly about being homeless as a child in Ocean Beach, moving in with her aunt and uncle and seemingly finding economic security before being thrust back into the spiral, living without running water and heat after her aunt and uncle lost their money in a failed business venture.
“Suddenly we didn’t have running water, heat or power, I was going to the back of supermarkets to get produce from grocers at night, and showering at Madison High,” Pico said. “So the dignity with which CRC treated the clients stuck with me, because I can tell you from experience there is a shame associated with it as a child even when it’s not your fault.”
Pico said she was also impressed by the organization’s reputation throughout the community, as well as the visible impact it has in the communities it serves.
“As a journalist, we tell stories and we hope that they can create an impact,” Pico said. “I love the idea of being able to see where a donation is going, who it directly benefits. It’s new to me, and I’m loving every bit of it.”
Pico said her new role will allow her to raise the visibility of CRC, a fixture in North San Diego County, throughout the rest of the region, through her Rolodex of connections. This, in turn, should lead to more support for the nonprofit’s operations, she said.
“What surprised me is how many people don’t know about it in San Diego,” said Pico, who said 13 percent of the organization’s clients are from San Diego.
She also said she is looking forward to helping CRC expand its offerings, including its food and nutrition program and its domestic violence shelter and transitional housing.
“I think what I bring to the table is that I love to think big,” Pico said. “I think we are entering a very exciting time in the history of CRC and I’m so glad to be here to be a part of it.”