A Message from Tomás Herrera-Mishler, Conservancy President & CEO

It’s so rewarding to see how incremental change can have a transformational impact—especially in Balboa Park. And while I’m consistently impressed with the caliber and quantity of work generated by our small start-up team (see below for our list of achievements and impact), it means little if we can’t share the success with YOU.

This year, many of you signed up to be our sustaining donors—Champions!—giving a gift every month. This kind of support allows us to be flexible and take on new opportunities that make our Balboa Park better—like launching two new volunteer initiatives, the Tree Stewards and Park Ambassadors. Hundreds more of you have given to the Conservancy’s annual fund this year, helping us restore and maintain Balboa Park’s historic landscapes and treasured tree canopy.

We now have more than 100 members in our Conservator’s Circle—individuals who believe in our data-driven, collaborative process and have made a minimum commitment to give $1,000+ for 5 years or more. This allows us to plan for and manage large, priority park projects like our Signage and Wayfinding initiative, now approved and funded for implementation in 2020, or our Tree Balboa Park program, 580 trees planted and counting.

I believe that philanthropy is vital for making Balboa Park a best-in-class destination. We look forward to the coming year, with meaningful improvements to the park’s visitor experience, historic landscape restoration and updates in three of our treasured gardens, building improvements to Casa del Prado, and much more.

A strong foundation has been laid for the future of the park, and this is due to YOU. Many thanks to all of our donors, the Board of Trustees, volunteers, Parks and Recreation, our many partners, and our dedicated and talented staff.

With gratitude,


P.S. Read on for examples of the impact you helped us achieve!


Your Impact

The Balboa Park Conservancy invests resources and expertise in park priorities and mission-driven programs in partnership with the City of San Diego and in collaboration with key stakeholders. You’ve helped us achieve the following:

Organizational Excellence

  • Selected as one of just five urban park organizations nationally to participate in the Central Park Conservancy Institute for Urban Parks’ new program, the Partnerships Lab, which leverages the resources and expertise of the Central Park Conservancy to help park organizations build their own capacity to plan, develop, and maintain great public places.
  • Grew our sustainable giving program to more than 100 Conservator’s Circle Donors, increasing our ability to plan and manage park improvement projects, enhance park placemaking, and expand our volunteer initiatives.
  • Awarded an AmeriCorps Volunteer Infrastructure Project (VIP) Fellow by Jewish Family Services for a second consecutive year, increasing our ability to sustain and grow a parkwide volunteer program.
  • Launched Love Balboa Park, an inclusive membership program designed to foster park advocacy and connection.

Park Improvement

  • Created a more accessible and comprehensive digital tree inventory using Tree Plotter.
  • Completed fountain repairs in the historic Alcazar Garden, as the beginning of a comprehensive restoration project for 2020.
  • Successfully advocated for state funding: led by Senator Toni G. Atkins, the state of California allocated $8.26 million to the City of San Diego for the restoration of the Botanical Building and Gardens.
  • Awarded a $257,668 grant from the federal Save America’s Treasures (SAT) National Park Services grant program to help restore the Botanical Building’s Welcome Gallery.
  • Received approval for the enhanced and comprehensive Balboa Park Signage and Wayfinding program developed with the City of San Diego, park stakeholders, and environmental design firm, RSM.
  • Awarded $220,000 by The San Diego Foundation for implementation of the Signage and Wayfinding project in 2020.
  • Planted approximately 580 trees over the past two and a half years, nearly completing the comprehensive Tree Balboa Park program funded by CAL FIRE and executed in partnership with the City of San Diego.
  • Invested a total of $167K in the plans and restoration of the historic 1935 Cactus Garden, with a third phase of improvements beginning in 2020.
  • Received a $100K Public Recreation Fund Grant from The San Diego Foundation to replace the outdated tennis court lights with modern LED fixtures at the Balboa Tennis Club.
  • Completed re-fencing and other rehabilitation efforts in Nate’s Point Dog Park, for a total investment of $26K.


  • Certified by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, as a Service Enterprise, placing the Conservancy in the top 11 percent of nonprofits nationwide in volunteer management and organizational performance.
  • Surpassed 500 volunteers within our organization, contributing more than 15,156 hours in 2019.
  • Celebrated the 1-year anniversary of our Tree Stewards initiative, with a total of 45 volunteers and over 700 hours of service supporting our urban forest.
Visitor Experience & Placemaking
  • Supported Park Rangers with 55 public tours and 33 custom tours of Balboa Park, through our trained volunteer tour corps in the Visitors Center.
  • Created a new Balboa Park Gardens Brochure to take visitors on an unforgettable journey from the iconic Alcazar Garden and Botanical Building, to hidden gems on the east and west mesas of the park.
  • Collaborated with park stakeholders and Parks and Recreation to expand and host FREE community events for more than 500,000 visitors: Food Truck Fridays, Halloween Family Day, Holiday Food Truck Festival, Cinco de Mayo, and Spring Fling Food Truck Festival (newly launched!), thanks in part to a Creative Communities San Diego grant from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.
  • Co-partnered with the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department, Friends of Balboa Park, and Tree San Diego to launch the first citywide Arbor Day festival.
  • Launched a new free community event, Plant It Forward: A Celebration of Kate Sessions and the Trees of Balboa Park, made possible by a prestigious Environmental Champions Award from SDG&E and a grant from California ReLeaf.
  • Awarded a second Heart of the Community (HOTC) grant by Southwest Airlines and the Project for Public Spaces (PPS), providing expertise from the resources of PPS to help the Conservancy convene a Visioning Workshop for parkwide placemaking.

SUSTAINING Donors 2019

We are especially grateful to the following individuals and organizations who have pledged their recurring support, either monthly or annually, to the Balboa Park Conservancy. An asterisk indicates that a donor is a Champion, contributing ongoing sustaining monthly gifts.

Cecile Abel*
Barbara Alderson
Tony & Sue Alessandra
Jeanette Barrack
Stephanie Becerra*
Diane & Richard Beckman
Marsha A. Bedwell
Vivienne Bennett
Nancy Bentivegna*
Laurie Black*
Indra G. Bowers*
George Cameron
Steve Cologne & Vicky Carlson
Roger Conlee
Marijean Crow*
Charlene Dackerman
Cheryl Daily
Nicholas DeCorso*
Alice & Doug Diamond
Michael & Heather Dietsch
Katherine Difrancesca*
Ellis Family Foundation
Marianne Ericsson
Alyssa Gardner*
Elizabeth Gonzales*
Frank Green*
Bobbi Hardiman*
David Israel*
Sy John Iverson*
Christina Iwane Dunn*
Keely Jeters*
Wesley Jones
Kimberly Ketron
David & Julie Kinney
Leslie S. Klein
Leslie Krallim*
Ann Kuhn
Russell Lail
Rachel Laing
Martin Levine
Vonnie Madigan*
Michael Madsen
Jordan Malavar*
Lisa Mann*
Sue Marberry*
Julianne & Greg Markow
Stefania Marzano*
Katherine Matlack & Lloyd Price
Brian Matthews
Robert & Ardelle Matthews
Barbara Metz
Mary Mitchell
Rhonda & Michael Mona
Loretta Monareng*
Kotaro Nakamura
Fern Nelson*
Tavette Neskorik*
Phuoc Nguyen*
Ana Nosal*
Jeraldine Young Oborn
Jimmy & Sonya Parker
Jolyn B. Parker
Sandra Perlatti
Krista Powers
Lynn Rasic*
Anne & Bob Rast
Mary M. Rathbun*
Victoria Reed*
Grant Reeder & Scott Williford
Carol Rosas*
Jessica Rounseville*
John & Bonnie Rush
Robert Salt*
Gary Schwendig*
Bonnie Scott*
Craig Scott
Dave Smith
Spurlock Landscape Architects
Ellen Starr
Jean Stein
Susan Stein*
Ann Stice*
Dylan Swisher*
Glee Thomson*
Abby Weiss
Scott Williford*


List updated 12/27/2019; Click here for a complete list of donors.