HU Employee Spotlight: Sandy Tesch Wilkins

At Humanity United, we are proud to work with a talented and dedicated team that brings curiosity, empathy and creativity to our commitment to create a world with greater peace and dignity.

Each month, we will highlight one of our team members and invite you to meet the individuals that make so much of our work possible.

Name & position?
Sandy Tesch Wilkins, Investments Manager

Have you had any unusual pets?
I grew up on a ranch about an hour east of San Francisco so we always had cows and chickens growing up. My sister and I raised a calf from a bottle after his mother died.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
I read Killers of the Flower Moon as soon as it came out because I love David Grann’s writing. It did not disappoint. It is a chilling portrayal of a part of American history I knew nothing about, the systematic murder of Osage Native Americans for their oil wealth. It is also a fascinating look into some of the first FBI agents and how the FBI became the organization it is today.

What do you do for fun?
In April I had my first child (now seven months old!) and she has introduced me to a whole new kind of fun. There is nothing better than pushing her on the swings and hearing her squeals of delight.

What was your first job?
Technically, my first job was working for our family business, a Christmas tree farm. It was a choose-and-cut farm, meaning the trees were all grown on site and customers took a saw and cut down the tree themselves. We sold Sierra redwoods (my favorite), scotch pines, eldarica pines, Monterey pines, incense cedars, deodar cedars, and Douglas firs. Everyone in the family helped out, from planting trees and fixing sprinklers to working the cash register and helping customers tie their trees to their cars.

What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
I think giving birth falls into this category! I also kissed a giraffe in Kenya (I’m really not much of a thrill seeker).

Favorite travel location?
I have volunteered with the Red Cross since I was 14 years old and it has taken me all over the world. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I spent two weeks in North Sulawesi, Indonesia at a Red Cross youth leadership camp and would go back in a heartbeat. It was a beautiful place and our hosts were some of the nicest people I have ever met.

Favorite food indulgence?
I’m going to be very specific here: It is ice cream from Mitchell’s in San Francisco in a cone from Ici in Berkeley. It’s the best of both worlds.

What is something about you that may surprise others?
I started college at UC Berkeley a year early, when I was 16, through an honors program. I attended part-time while I finished up my senior year in high school and then continued on full-time after graduation.

What inspires you?
I have always been fascinated by systems and institutions, how and why they are structured the way they are, and how we can change them for the better. I am inspired by people who work behind the scenes doing unglamorous but important work and the incremental but long lasting change that can result from understanding what makes systems and institutions tick. It requires what John Gardner – another source of inspiration – called “tough-minded optimism.”