Sheila Fortune brings business background to La Jolla Village Merchants Association as its new executive director
La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) recently announced the appointment of Sheila Fortune as its executive director. A former business owner in La Jolla, Fortune was a member of the volunteer team that came together to form the new management organization for the La Jolla Business Improvement District in early 2011. She was subsequently elected to the board of directors and was nominated to the executive board, as secretary. A native of Atlanta, Fortune has more than 25 years of expertise in business management, non-profit management, strategic planning, marketing, as well as government grant and procurement processes.
What brought you to La Jolla?
I was the vice president of a large civil engineering firm on the East Coast. After the economic crash in 2008, I found myself out of a career that I had devoted almost 20 years to in the public/private sector real estate development industry. It became apparent to me that things were not going to improve for a long time, so I decided to reinvent myself. I moved to San Diego to create a new business, and partner with my only child, Brandon. Together we started a restaurant in the Village (Aquamoree).
What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
I would replace all of the cracked and broken sidewalks with decorative pavers; put luscious landscaping in, and create small, green space/pocket parks for relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the Village.
Who inspires you?
I love strong leaders. People who are not afraid to take a stand, and help make things better in this world. I don’t care for people who complain, and act as if the world owes it to them to fix their problems. I was fortunate to learn early on in my career from a great mentor; he told me, “Don’t come to me with a problem if you don’t have a solution.” I didn’t have to have the right solution. I just had to have thought out the problem, and attempted to formulate my own solution.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
This is a hard one, because I love to be a part of a great party. It really depends on the theme. So I’m going to assume this one is for fun, and since it is the only time I can get these people together, I may as well stack the deck and have a great time. I would invite:
1) Dixie Cox, my best girlfriend for 28 years, and she is always good for great dinner party conversation.
2) Derek Jeter, I turned him down for ice cream once, and I need to make up for it.
3) Bubba Watson, I want to drink beer, and play golf with him so I need to schmooze him.
4) George Clooney, I would never get to have dinner with him unless I’m having this dinner party.
5) Peter White, I want him to play his jazz guitar after dinner, and keep the party going.
6) Stevie Nicks, she is an icon of my lifetime, and she can also sing with Peter.
7) Danica Patrick, she is fearless, and to do what she does for a living, she has to be a lot of fun to hang out with.
8) Chef Brandon Fortune (my son). He is the best chef I know, so he will be cooking the dinner for the party.
What are you reading?
I am reading Jim Collins’s book, “Great by Choice.” I am also in the middle of reading Darian Rodriguez Heyman’s “Nonprofit Management 101.”
What is it that you most dislike?
Being late or waiting for someone who is late … and in an area where “surfer time” is the norm, let’s just say I have to count to 10 a lot.
What is your most-prized possession?
That would be my son and our relationship, plus he’s finally given me my newest most-prized possession, Camila, my new granddaughter.
What is your most-marked characteristic?
Knowing that life is tough for us all. I have always tried to keep a positive attitude, while formulating a strategy to keep pushing forward, and creating a better life.
What is philosophy of life?
“Fake it till you make it.” I don’t know who said that, but sometimes that’s what you have to do to succeed.
What would be your dream vacation?
I would love to take a 14-day cruise to Greece, France, Italy and Spain; then head to the Four Seasons – Bora, Bora and crash for another week. This is a dream right?
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