Nancy Walters strives to expand the fun factor at La Jolla Community Center


As the executive director of the La Jolla Community Center, Nancy Walters is implementing new programs to increase membership. She’s been positioning the center through social media and establishing partnerships with different organizations to ensure its growth. In the past two years, Walter has seen the center through various renovations. She said the front entrance and lobby improvements would be completed by September.

Walters was born and raised in San Diego. She studied business at San Diego State University and minored in Latin American Studies. She also studied Portuguese, coming from a household where Spanish was her first language.

Throughout college, Walters devoted her spare time to youth athletics and volunteered as a girls’ basketball coach at Montgomery High School. She coached all levels, including elementary to high school varsity. She also enjoys volunteering to restore Tecolote Canyon.

While at SDSU, Walters also worked as program coordinator for four high schools in the Sweetwater Union District, running an afterschool program through the YMCA. By providing tutoring for underprivileged students, and providing classes students could attend after school while retaining high attendance, she saw an increase in the school’s pass/fail rate.

What brought you to La Jolla?

In May 2010, I was offered a position at the La Jolla Community Center (then Riford Center) and I thought it was a great opportunity to become involved with this wonderful community I heard so much about. The center has so much to offer and it’s a block away from WindanSea Beach, so how could I refuse?

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

I would add “La Jolla Community Center” to the vocabulary of every 92037 resident. The center is such a gem, there’s something for everyone. I wish everyone could enjoy it as much as I do.

Who or what inspires you?

My No. 1 inspiration will always be my mother, Silvia, and father, Jose. They taught me the value of hard work and have always been supportive of anything I chose to do. The La Jolla Community Center board and members are also inspiring. We have such an amazing board and members who continually give back selflessly, not only to the center, but also to the whole community.

Ruth Yansick, Glen Rasmussen, Don Hodges (just to name a few), have been instrumental to our success as a community center. They are all volunteers and sometimes spend more time at the center than at their offices. People who give to others over themselves inspire me. I am learning and growing on a daily basis.

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

I would invite Florence Riford because I would like to talk to her about her vision for the center. She was a brilliant businesswoman. I’m sure I would learn a lot. I would also enjoy the company of Cleopatra, Lucille Ball, Frida Kahlo, Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs, Chelsea Handler, and of course my other half, Joseph Shepherd.

What are your five favorite movies of all time?

I have a large collection and plenty of favorites; these include “Shawshank Redemption,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Apocalypto,” “Kill Bill (Part I)” and “Casino.”

What is your most-prized possession?

I don’t have children yet but I suspect they would be my pride and joy. I do, however, have a wonderful niece, Emma, and godson, Hunter, whom I love dearly. Something I cherish and is tangible is a beautiful ring that my grandmother, Cuquita, gave me. It was her aunt’s and she passed it down to me. I hope to pass that along to my daughter one day.

What do you do for fun?

I have recently discovered a newfound love for painting, thanks to Canvas Design & Wine taught by Dottie Stanley at the La Jolla Community Center. I also enjoy any outdoor activities — sports, barbecues, and small dinner parties with family and friends. I love watching movies, and going to concerts and museums, too.

What would be your dream vacation?

I would want an around-the-world pass that would allow me to visit the tip of South America to the coast of Japan and everything in between.

What is your most-marked characteristic?

I’ve been told that I am patient, calm, and a good listener. I like to listen and process information before I make a decision about anything. I like to listen to people’s stories, too. If you take the time to listen, what you can learn is fascinating!

What is your philosophy of life?

Be happy. Do what you love and be open to learning. Always keep your mind open to new ideas.