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In Loving Memory of Lucy Killea

by | Jan 20, 2017

In Memory of Lucy Killea
San Diego, CA – January 20, 2017

The International Community Foundation (ICF) is saddened to announce the passing of our founding President Lucy Killea. Despite battling cancer and her seasoned age of 94, Lucy Killea was a champion of the cross-border region and the International Community Foundation right up until her death on January 18th, 2017. She will be sorely missed by the thriving binational community that she led and inspired for nearly 50 years.

Lucy Killea was widely recognized for her political career on the San Diego City Council and as a state legislator. Many remember her as a champion of women’s rights, a trailblazer in the male-dominated field of politics, who defend the principles she believed in. But few may know about her invaluable leadership in the border region. Lucy’s passion for Mexican culture stemmed from the ten years that she and her husband, John Killea, served as U.S. diplomats to Monterrey and Tijuana. Upon settling in San Diego in 1968, Lucy was committed to continuing to foster dialogue and collaboration between the two countries, and pursued a doctorate in Latin American History from University of California, San Diego.

In 1990, alongside then-CEO of the San Diego Foundation Bob Kelly, Vince Sciliano, and an inspired group of donors and advisors, Lucy Killea founded and served as first President of the International Community Foundation from 1996-2001. According to Kelly, “Her reputation was solid both in the US and Mexico – something that was unique to Lucy. We hired her to bring us to a new level and she did; she brought visibility and credibility to ICF, and it’s one of her lasting legacies.”

Beyond her work to position ICF for future growth, Lucy’s leadership was instrumental in the establishment of the Fundación International de la Comunidad (FIC) in 2000, the foundation’s sister foundation in Tijuana and the first community foundation in Baja California.  From 2000-2004, she served as a board member of FIC and continued to provide strategic counsel to ICF, serving as the Chair of the Foundation’s International Advisory Board from 2003 until 2010.

According to Richard Kiy, who succeeded her as ICF’s second President, “Lucy was a strong champion and advocate for expanded cross-border civic engagement and cooperation.”  As Kiy noted, “Lucy believed that the only way to improve binational cooperation between the United States and Mexico was by building bridges not barriers. As such, she was beloved by civic leaders on both sides of the border.”

Today, the International Community Foundation continues to build on Lucy’s legacy by building bridges and inspiring charitable giving by U.S. donors to international organizations, particularly those in the border region and Baja Peninsula, with the goal of strengthening civil society and promoting sustainable communities.

Several of ICF’s current Board Members were first introduced to the organization thanks to Lucy Killea, including Mary Walshok, who first began working with her in 1975, when Lucy led a cross border organization Fronteras de las Californias, which, coincidental with the US bicentennial, highlighted San Diego’s unique history as a cross border city. According to Walshok, “That work inspired the creation of the San Diego Dialogue, the first organization to build a collaborative cross-border civic leadership platform in the region. Today there are many such platforms, but Lucy helped pioneer what was then new territory.”

In 2015, the International Community Foundation celebrated 25 years of philanthropic work and cross-border collaboration. As ICF’s first President, Lucy was asked to reflect on her motivations to plant the seed, and shared; “Having lived in Mexico for ten years, I really wanted to grow the connection between the U.S. and Mexico. ICF seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that.”

Lucy Killea’s legacy will live on through the work of the International Community Foundation, and the dozens of other organizations who are working tirelessly to foster binational understanding.  To help continue Lucy’s legacy, please consider a contribution to ICF’s Border Fund, which is dedicated to cross-border collaboration, dialogue, and the growth of civil society organizations.

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