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Employee Spotlight: Cherryl Castro-Lector Shares the Importance of Filipino American History

We sat down with SDBB Foundation’s Cherryl Castro-Lector, Development Manager, to find out more about her thoughts on Filipino American History Month and how her heritage and culture has helped to shape who she is today.  

Hi Cherryl. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I was born in the Philippines then moved to San Diego with my family over 40 years ago. I graduated from San Diego State University in 2002 with a BA in Art History. Currently, I am a second year MA candidate at the University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences in the Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program. My husband and I reside in Chula Vista with our children. We love visiting museums and theme parks, as well as lounging at home and watching our favorite movies together.  

Before working in healthcare fundraising, I gained 25 years of experience in the arts and culture sector. I have worked for the San Diego Museum of Art, the Philippine Library and Historical Heritage Museum, The New Children’s Museum, and the San Diego Archaeological Center. 

I was thrilled when the opportunity to join San Diego Blood Bank’s Foundation team came along. I was drawn to the lifesaving mission of SDBB and its decades of service to the San Diego community. Working with the incredible financial donors that support SDBB in their lifesaving efforts is a great honor. 

What you do for San Diego Blood Bank and how does your role impact the community?
As Development Manager, I am responsible for launching a comprehensive annual giving and major gift strategic fundraising program that will generate new revenue for the SDBB Foundation. I manage the Leadership Circle, an exclusive program for financial donors who contribute $1,000 or more annually. I also spend a portion of my time writing grants to community foundations and corporations requesting support for the organization’s needs.  

My role as a development officer requires me to be a liaison across the organization and articulate SDBB’s initiatives to potential financial donors. Overall, I play a strategic role in executing our Mission: Saving lives with quality blood services in partnership with the community and enhancing community health through research, education, and personalized wellness. 

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in fundraising?
Fundraising is a diverse field. There is a multitude of specialties—from grant writing to major gifts and planned giving—all of which require a specific skill set. Fundraising is rewarding on so many levels, and the potential impact it can make for an organization can be immense. My goal as an established fundraiser is to raise funds and awareness for this vital community organization and for those who rely on us to survive. 

As a Filipina-American, how has your identity influenced your professional life?
We Filipinos take pride in our work and value our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and clients. We are known for our strong work ethic, hospitality, and friendliness. 

As a member of the Culture Committee here at San Diego Blood Bank, in what ways have you ensured that Filipinos are represented in this organization?
The Culture Committee was established to ensure that all voices are heard when the organization makes decisions that impact its staff. The committee helps to represent the interests of employees and we make sure the organization makes progress on culture goals.  

For the first time, Asian Pacific Islander Month (May) was recognized in the employee newsletter. I interviewed several prominent Asian Americans for the cultural spotlight, and it was shared internally with SDBB staff. We must shine the light on all cultures represented at SDBB. When we do that, we learn that we have more similarities than differences.   

What advice do you have for anyone looking to pursue a career in a nonprofit organization?
As a nonprofit administrator, you have the responsibility of connecting and understanding the community you serve, whether it is the homeless population, underserved youth, or special needs individuals. It is important to meet the community where they are before making assumptions about their needs. Be honest, authentic, and mission-driven! 

Why do you feel it's important to recognize Filipino American History Month?
It's important to recognize Filipino American History Month because it validates our existence as a community. Filipinos have been part of U.S. history since 1587; however, our stories are not mentioned in American history books. So many events occurred that highlight the discrimination and injustice that Filipino Americans faced despite their contributions that shaped this country. 

How do you observe Filipino American History Month?
There are so many great events that commemorate Filipino American History Month, one of them being the San Diego Filipino Film Festival hosted by the Mingei International Museum. Also, the San Diego Public Library hosted virtual and in-person programs that celebrate the Filipino diaspora in the U.S. They have film screenings, exhibits, and bilingual story time! Overall, it’s been a fun month for me to share and educate my children about their culture. As a parent to fourth generation Filipino Americans, my goal is to immerse them in as much culture as possible and teach them to carry on our traditions.   

Who is a Filipino American that inspires you?
First, I would not be here without my ancestors who immigrated to this country in search of better opportunities. Thinking of them reminds me of their adversities, as well as their successes. Second, I’m grateful for having two loving and supportive parents who worked tirelessly to provide the best for me and my siblings. They’re now enjoying their well-deserved retirement and spending time with their “apo” (grandchildren). Lastly, I’m truly inspired by my “kababayans” (fellow Filipinos) at SDBB who contribute their skills and talents for the benefit of the community. We Filipinos are hardworking and take pride in what we do!