Spotlight: Sherry Tennyson - United Way Bay Area
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Spotlight: Sherry Tennyson

May 9, 2017


Born and raised in San Francisco, Sherry Tennyson has seen the city grow throughout the years.


“What I love most about San Francisco is the diversity,” said Tennyson. “There’s so many folks from so many different walks of life and there’s a genuine feeling that people want to help each other and work with each other.”


Tennyson is the Executive Director of The American Canyon Family Resource Center where she leads their mission to strengthen community, embrace diversity, and provide and promote access to local resources. In addition to serving on UWBA’s Board, she also serves as a Career Advisor with Napa Valley College.


We are grateful Tennyson took time out of her busy schedule to share her passion for social impact and how United Way can best position themselves to achieve their organizational mission.



What do you think would help United Way deliver more impactful community change in the coming years?


Before this conversation I was speaking with our Dean here at the college and we’re excited that we brought a Sparkpoint Center here and now host an even richer set of services at the Family Resource Center. My biggest hope and heart has been in workforce development and I’m excited we get to work with our student services here and provide career resources for our students, as this is how we deliver impact to the community.


We talk to the students about their financial education and about what types of jobs they’ve done or if there’s a wiser process for getting a better job, where they’re headed, what’s their long term plan, and then also being part of the family resource center which has always been our foundation.


We also ask them if they need help completing their taxes. We just finished our tax prep services and for six weeks students came in here twice a week to work with our staff — they really wanted this assistance. Sometimes it’s easier to come and get your taxes done here rather than trying to find another location, so that was a really big opportunity that we wanted to provide for the community.



In terms of United Way work, what does United Way do, that other non-profits do not do?


United Way has a lot of clout just because it’s the United Way — who we are as an organization. And I think that’s the key piece–more than 90 years of working within the Bay Area community.


I think it’s been a difficult process in terms of seeing recessions and then trying to operate in eight different counties, but I think that’s the critical piece of the picture, not looking at just one county, but looking at a region. As we continue to grow within the various counties we serve, we need to be in partnership, we need to learn from each other. And that’s why United Way is so critical.