10 Questions: Fundraising is Micki Olin’s way to give back to her community


Micki Olin invests her energy in community service, including contributions to La Jolla High, Gillispie School, and The Bishop’s School. She served six years on Bishop’s Annual Giving Campaign and Auction, which provides funding for financial scholarships. As a member of Las Patronas, she co-chaired the 2013 Jewel Ball and chaired “Rhapsody in White,” the 2014 Ball. She was treasurer for La Posada de los Ninos, San Diego Center for Children Auxiliaries and Boy Scouts Troop 4. Micki served on the NCL board for nine years, twice chairing “Senior Presents.” In 2015, the Salvation Army named her a “Woman of Dedication.”

Micki is currently president of Patrons of the Prado, an energetic all-volunteer group devoted to Balboa Park’s cultural institutions. She is in full swing with the 19th annual Masterpiece Gala: Full Steam Ahead!, set for July 9 at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

What brought you to La Jolla?

I relocated to California in 1978 for a residency in Health Care Management at UCSD Medical Center following my graduate work at UW-Madison. I collected data for my thesis and returned to Madison to finish my Masters, returning to UCSD in the summer of 1979 to implement my thesis, which was designed to attract insured patients to support the university’s teaching and research mission, while making the institution more financially solvent. I fell in love with La Jolla and was fortunate to be offered a series of rewarding positions at UCSD Medical Center that made it easy to decide to make this beautiful community my home.

What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

My husband is an avid cyclist, so I wish the streets in our otherwise lovely neighborhoods were not so treacherous and were better maintained. I’d pass the same magic wand over The Cove and relocate the seals, sea lions and birds to a suitable alternative so the terrible stench could be removed from this iconic La Jolla setting and the beach and ocean could once again be fully enjoyed by families, swimmers and, of course, the visitors to our Village.

Who or what inspires you?

I am constantly amazed and impressed by the incredible programs developed and offered by the theaters and museums in Balboa Park. The largest urban cultural park in the United States, it represents an extraordinary landscape of art, theatre, science and history. I love the ambiance of the Park at night, with the beautiful lighting and the backdrop of the majestic buildings, and am inspired with every visit to ensure this important community resource continues its cultural legacy.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

I would invite my late father D. Richard Olin as a young man, prior to his affliction with Multiple Sclerosis, who inspired my love of history and would enjoy sitting across the table from Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Katharine Hepburn would lend some verve to the evening, along with tales of adventure from Amelia Earhart and Mark Twain. My wonderful husband, Reid Abrams would be there, and finally, my gradschool roommate, the late Mary Gumble Levy, just for the pure joy of hearing the marvelous sound of her infectious laughter again.

What are you reading?

I have a few books that I’m reading right now, including “Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill,” whose author (Sonia Purnell) recently gave a fascinating lecture at The Timkin Art Museum. I just finished the third of the four Neapolitan books by Elena Ferrante and I just started “I Saw a Man,” by Owen Sheers, which promises to be gripping. I belong to two local book clubs, so I’m about to start “Circling the Sun,” by Paula McLain and “Nightingale,” by Kristin Hannah.

What is it that you most dislike?

I’m easily frustrated with people or businesses that make no effort to recycle and keep our world in the best possible condition for our grandchildren and future generations. I also just don’t understand anyone who thinks that there could be any possible valid reason for a private citizen to own an automatic weapon of the type that have recently killed and injured so many innocent people.

What is your most-prized possession?

One can never possess another person; so I would change this question to what do I value the most in this world? And the answer would be my three wonderful children. I’m so proud of their transformation into amazing young adults who care about making the world a better place.

What do you do for fun?

I love to spend time with good friends, whether it’s a dinner at the beach, a long walk with a girlfriend, a night at The Old Globe or just chatting over a cup of coffee. I also love to greet spring and enjoy summer in the garden. As Alice Sebold quipped, “I like gardening — it’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.” Whenever I can, I cherish the opportunity to spend time with my sweet grandson.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

When one loses a dear friend you realize that life is precious and short. So take too many pictures, laugh every day, cherish your friends and family, care deeply, speak kindly, love generously, never give up, and be passionate about everything you do. Find a way — big or small — to contribute to the world and feel the joy of giving back.

What would be your dream vacation?

While I’m dreaming, I might as well design a well-rounded trip! I would take my entire family, including my darling 18-month old grandson, and make the first leg of our journey a stop at our favorite ranch in Colorado for a week of horseback riding in the mountains. Then we’d fly to New York for a stopover to see “Hamilton,” and one of The Old Globe or La Jolla Playhouse shows that are playing Broadway. Then we’d leave for the beaches of Bali for at least two weeks of rest, relaxation and water sports. We’d continue flying east until we landed reached the gorgeous San Juan Islands for a week of biking, hiking and kayaking. We’d plan to stop in Napa on the way home to join great friends and visit some special wineries together. Now I just need to convince my family to take this much time off!