Going Green had the chance to sit down with Toni Giffin, the CEO of San Diego Goodwill, to learn about her long career working to make San Diego a better place, while also pushing towards a more sustainable future when it comes to building communities and recycling clothes, consumer goods, and electronics.
Tell us about your background:
Along with raising three wonderful children, I had a variety of careers before coming to Goodwill San Diego, from Retail to Finance and Non-Profit. I have been with Goodwill San Diego now for more than 20 years. During my tenure with Goodwill, I have had the opportunity to oversee every functional department, including Retail, Human Resources, Accounting, Communications, Mission Services, and the rest. Now I serve as President and CEO. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a certificate of completion from Goodwill Industries International’s Executive Development Program.
What caused you to get into your industry?
Careers take so much time away from children and family that I wanted my time away to be meaningful and to make a difference in the lives of others. That desire led me to Goodwill San Diego. I am fortunate to have found my purpose; helping people with disabilities and other barriers to employment become self-sufficient is extremely rewarding.
What trends are you seeing in your industry?
Like all retail, we are seeing a growing trend towards shopping online. We are a little different because our brick and mortar retail stores are full of one of a kind items, and people enjoy the treasure hunt. Our challenge in the e-Commerce space is to improve the process, listing and selling one item is extremely time consuming, other e-Commerce platforms list an item and sell hundreds or thousands of that item.
In addition, we are seeing consumers embrace the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle movement. Goodwill was one of the first industries that understood the circular economy and that concept is very relevant today. Goodwill shoppers know the importance of repurposing and the value of keeping usable goods out of our landfills. I am grateful that protecting our planet has become a priority for so many. Last year, we diverted nearly 14M pounds of used goods from our landfill.
What is one action item for our listeners and viewers to take away from this conversation?
Please donate to Goodwill San Diego by visiting the donate page at SDGoodwill.org. In addition to donating apparel, shoes, housewares, home décor, furniture, and electronics, we also accept monetary donations and purchases at our retail locations. Donors and shoppers create revenue that goes back into our community to provide free services and programs to anyone who is searching for employment, training, and a better life.
What is a fun fact about you?
I grew up in Palm Springs during the late 50s and 60s, when all the Hollywood stars were flocking to town. My father was a golf professional at a Country Club where we lived along with Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Danny Kay, the Marx Brothers and many other celebrities, it was an interesting time.
Where do you see your industry ten years from now?
I see more consumers reducing, reusing, and recycling to preserve our resources for future generations. I see Goodwill partnering with companies who are innovating ways to convert clothing into new fabric, We will continue to see growth in eCommerce. Enhanced platforms for virtual training, programs and services, making them more accessible to people who rely on mass transit or have childcare restrictions and other factors.
Going Green wants to thank Toni for sharing her journey working at the San Diego Goodwill.
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Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.