We had the good fortune of connecting with Nancy Davidson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nancy, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
The Foundation for Living Beauty exists to educate, uplift and empower women with cancer. When women are going through cancer treatment, their needs are significant, but as women, we put everyone and everything else before our own self care. Living Beauty provides events and retreats for women to experience wellness skills they can implement in their daily lives, as well as the opportunity to develop relationships with other women along the same path. The blessing of the pandemic for us is that Living Beauty has created virtual programs we can now offer to a more global audience of women with cancer, creating a network of support and empowerment for women with cancer everywhere.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It’s so interesting to look back on a career and see how random experiences bring you to where you are. I started my career at Robinson’s Department Store (remember that?) first as an assistant buyer and then in employee communications. I was a journalism major at the University of Redlands, so it sort of made sense. I then went to Transamerica as a product writer. When Transamerica laid off 1,100 people, I was one of them, and decided to put my volunteer experience to work exploring nonprofit work. I never looked back. Even when I was working in corporate America, I always volunteered, either through the Pasadena Jaycees, the Tournament of Roses or the Junior League. My first nonprofit job was as the Executive Director of a nonpublic school serving emotionally disturbed children, and I then moved to CASA serving children in foster care. After 11 years there, and seven years as a nonprofit consultant while my children were in school, their departure for college and Living Beauty’s mission called me, and I became the ED there in 2016. What a gift! It seems like every nonprofit I joined was poised to move forward from their infancy stage. When I joined Escalon, the school served 28 students. When I left, we were at 125. CASA was raising about $100,000 per year my first year. When I left, we were raising over $1.5 million. And Living Beauty served around 350 women in 2015. Now, six years later, we are close to 1,000. Taking an organization and helping it grow to the next level has always excited me, knowing that more children, or women, can benefit from the services we are providing. It hasn’t been without its challenges, and I suppose those are when you grow the most. The pandemic caused us to pivot Living Beauty’s in-person programs to virtual experiences, which have enabled even more women to connect and experience healing opportunities. One of the most important lessons I have learned that you never give up. When challenges present themselves, and they will, there is always a solution. The miracle is that the new solution might lead you to better outcomes than your original plan.
One of my favorite experiences with The Foundation for Living Beauty has been partnering with Weleda skincare as their North American charitable partner. Two years ago, my daughter Courtney and I were honored to visit Weleda’s gardens in Schwabisch Gmund, Germany, to help harvest calendula flowers for baby lotion. What an amazing experience! Weleda sponsors Living Beauty’s signature Goddess Wellness Retreat and provides women with cancer with amazing products.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Growing up in California, I’m a beach girl. I love to go to the beach, eat at the beach, sit and watch the waves… During this pandemic, when opportunities are limited, the beach still calls. I love musical theatre, and can’t wait until the opportunity to go to live theatre returns. And, well, you can’t truly be a California girl without loving those Dodgers, so I’d make sure we took in a game or two! We would try a different type of restaurant every night, and at the end of the week, I think we would have a new So Cal convert!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
After many years in the nonprofit sector, I am grateful to The Foundation for Living Beauty, because I realize that this organization is what all my previous opportunities have led me toward. Providing support and care to women with cancer is one of the greatest joys of my life. Connecting with women at one of the darkest points of their lives and bringing them hope, nurturing and empowerment in their own journey is such a blessing, and I am so grateful I was given this opportunity. Spending 11 years as the Executive Director of CASA Los Angeles and helping them grow taught me what I needed to know to provide Living Beauty programs to more and more women in need. I also have to shout out to my husband of 27 years, Jim Davidson, who always encouraged me to “go for it” and always pulled up a chair and sat down when I said “I have an idea”.
Facebook: The Foundation for Living Beauty