RANCHO SANTA FE — The Country Friends recently announced that Suzanne Newman was named board president for the nonprofit. Her position became official on Jan. 17. Newman served the roles of vice president in 2013 and 2014, and then again in 2017 to 2018. She also served as consignment shop liaison from 2011 to 2012.
Newman didn’t just stumble upon the Rancho Santa Fe-based nonprofit. She learned about it through her mother, the late Jean Newman, who became a highly involved and passionate member not after moving to North County in 1980.
“Although I lived and worked in Orange County, being an only child, my mother and I were very close, and I frequently attended events, such as the Art of Fashion with her,” Newman said. “Through her involvement with The Country Friends she taught me the value of the exceptional life I’ve been given and the importance of sharing as well as giving back to the community.”
Newman became a member of The Country Friends when she relocated to San Diego in 2010 to help her mother care for her father following a stroke.
When the opportunity to become board president was presented to Newman, it was an opportunity to give back to the organization and the funded agencies it supports even more.
“There were many reasons for becoming president, not the least of which is to continue the legacy of my mother who loved the organization, what it stands for, and the good it has done for 65 years,” Newman said. “Those beliefs in this organization have been passed on to me.”
Newman said she was in a time and place in her life to be given the opportunity to use the skills she gained in her professional career to help others while continuing to learn and grow personally.
It was a win-win situation.
Former two-term The Country Friends board president, and now First President Deborah Cross, said she has known Newman for many years.
“Suzanne is hardworking and dedicated to The Country Friends,” Cross said. “I am looking forward to working with her as a member of the board of directors.”
Newman has spent more than 40 years in the travel industry in positions such as division director of airline corporate sales, vice president of operations for a large national travel management company, and president of a travel technology start-up business. In each position, she walked away with newfound knowledge and skill.
However, Newman is quick to point out that she’s learned not to define herself by who she works for but rather for what she has contributed over the years.
As board president, Newman said that her goals are to continue to grow so that The Country Friends can expand its contributions to those in need in addition to supporting the contributions of her predecessor Cross, who established the Legacy Campaign. According to Newman, the Legacy Campaign aims to clear the nonprofit’s construction loan debt and create an endowment to ensure the organization can continue to fund agencies for the next 65 years.
“To that end, my initial focus is on expanding our name recognition across San Diego County and increasing our membership numbers,” she said.
Established in 1954, The Country Friends has contributed nearly $14 million to San Diego-based charities. Its two-story consignment shop is also part of the fundraising process.
Newman described The Country Friends’ board of directors as dedicated, driven, supportive, and positive — they understand the value of a common cause and are willing to do the work required to achieve those goals.
Newman wants people to know that The Country Friends is more than just the events they host. While shopping and fashion are a great vehicle to raise money, she said, the core of what they do is to learn about and support the small human care agencies in San Diego County needing financial assistance.
“Our funds are raised through our events, membership and consignment/donation sales through our shop,” Newman said. “We are a group that comes together from all areas of the county to work, network and contribute. Volunteers are an integral part of our success, and there are never too many.”
To learn more about The Country Friends, visit TheCountryFriends.org.