Pacific alumna passionate about her work with United Way
Amy Ferrell ’09 ’13 (Sport Management) has worn many hats during her association with University of the Pacific.
Undergraduate student. Guard for the women’s basketball team. Graduate student. Assistant basketball coach. Parent whose family lives close to the Stockton Campus.
For the third consecutive year, Ferrell will help guide the university’s United Way campaign, which will run Oct. 28 through Nov. 18 as part of employee benefits open enrollment.
Ferrell is the director of community impact for United Way of San Joaquin County and is passionate about helping nonprofits and the citizens of San Joaquin County. She works alongside another former Tiger student-athlete, Kristen Spracher-Birtwhistle ’81, ’87, who serves as CEO.
Ferrell shared some thoughts with Pacific Community Relations Director Mike Klocke, who directs the university’s United Way campaign.
United Way and Pacific have a long association. Next week, the university’s United Way campaign kicks off. And recently, Pacific received generous funding from United Way for COVID-related matters. How does this symbiotic relationship benefit both Pacific and United Way?
Amy Ferrell: University of the Pacific and United Way have partnered for decades through our workplace giving campaign, allowing employees to not only give back to any 501(c)(3) organizations in San Joaquin County, but also programs they’re passionate about at Pacific (for example: Pacific Athletics, Food Pantry, etc.). We look forward to a successful virtual campaign this year!
University of the Pacific received COVID-19 funding from United Way to help support the Westgate Center for Leadership and Management Development to help create forums for nonprofit agencies to advance their work around the pandemic. Another portion of the funding will support UOP’s COVID-19 Recovery Fund to provide technology enhancements, personal protective equipment for all students, faculty and staff. This is a win-win for United Way and Pacific—allowing a safer reopening of the entire campus community and an investment in the future of our local nonprofit agencies throughout San Joaquin County.
You help University of the Pacific and so many other entities with their United Way campaigns. Describe your job and what makes it unique and enjoyable.
Amy Ferrell: As the director of community impact, one aspect of my work at United Way is to oversee our workplace giving campaigns. This is an opportunity to build relationships and work with employers all over San Joaquin County by providing their employees the chance to give back to their local community. Whether to United Way or any 501(c)(3) organization of their choice, employees can donate directly through payroll deduction, making an impact immediately to those in need. It’s very rewarding to see how many people are extremely generous and truly want our community to be a better place for everyone.
The challenges must be immense as you deal with the impact COVID-19 is having on donors, potential donors and fund recipients. In what ways are you dealing with this complexity?
Amy Ferrell: We are knee deep into a very serious pandemic, but one that has generated new donors.
Since COVID-19, our United Way of San Joaquin County established an Emergency Response Fund to immediately help our nonprofit partners in their efforts to help homeless shelter operations, working families due to quarantine or disruption of income, and the coordination of community relief efforts.
We also received close to $1 million from an anonymous donor (the donation is part of larger, anonymous gift for United Ways across California), allowing a more focused and continued financial boost to local non-profit agencies which have programs that address homelessness and sheltering, education and support to immigrant and vulnerable populations, emergency response outreach, and food distribution to isolated senior citizens.
We partnered with Dignity Health and San Joaquin County Public Health in a countywide Mask-On Campaign to encourage the community to “mask-on” by ensuring these mask kits (masks, hand sanitizer, education materials) reach every city in the county.
We have retooled our online giving process to allow individual donors and our employee giving campaigns a more customized approach to make an impact now more than ever.
Flash back to your days at Pacific. What are a couple of lasting memories for you as a student, athlete and coach?
Amy Ferrell: I came to University of the Pacific in 2006 to play women’s basketball and earn a bachelor’s degree…and I never left Stockton! I stayed to continue my education and earn a master’s degree while serving as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team for seven years.
As a student, you’re well-taken care of—professors know you by name, they care about your education and future. They truly want to see you succeed.
As an athlete, your college experience is a dream. Beyond the wins and losses, you’re mentored from the time you step on campus until the time you leave. You gain lifelong friendships, you travel the world and you grow as a person. As a student-athlete, you’ll never forget what it feels like to celebrate with your “sisters” after a big win! It makes the 5 a.m. track workouts and sprints up and down the Spanos Center well worth it. Go Tigers!
Your family lives virtually in the shadow of Burns Tower. Tell us about your family and the frequent jaunts you still have around your alma mater’s campus.
Amy Ferrell: My husband, Jordan Ferrell, also earned his master’s degree at Pacific while serving as an assistant men’s soccer coach. He is now the head coach for Oakland Roots.
In our backyard, our kids (Russell 3, Riley 1) hear the bells from Burns Tower and either know it’s nap time, dinner time or bedtime! We absolutely love living “on campus.” From our family runs that quickly turn into “tiger hunts” to our weekend adventures with friends to ride bikes, we will forever be grateful for our frequent, almost daily, trips to campus.
When we eventually emerge from this pandemic, describe the role you see United Way of San Joaquin County playing in the community. Do you foresee a “new normal” or somewhat of a return to normalcy? Or both?
Amy Ferrell: Both! Instead of waiting for normalcy to return, we’re adapting and continuing to do what United Way is here for—to serve our communities.
During this pandemic, our team has worked together, efficiently and collectively to meet societal uncertainties and we’ll continue to do just that; positively make an impact throughout the county.