The O.C. native and UC Irvine alumna is the vice president of operations and administration of TGR Foundation, which celebrates its 25th year helping underserved youth through education and college readiness programs. Thatcher joined the group in 2003 to be the project manager for the TGR Learning Lab in Anaheim.
“When I first joined, there were six of us.” Now the nonprofit employs 60 people and hosts multiple events. Thatcher says working in the community and building employee benefits—a maternity plan and 401k, for example—have kept her engaged. “The nonprofit world was never where I saw myself. I told them I’d do it for three years. The professional journey and the opportunities have kept me strong.”
“We grew up in Santa Ana. (At age 5) I could only speak Korean and Spanish, even though I was born as an American citizen. My parents were working two or three jobs, and the lady down the hall was taking care of me and other kids. … I took the OCTA bus to elementary school. My parents were adamant that we would speak English fluently and go to college.
“Asking for what you need is hard. We have to encourage the students to be bold. We have to ask them to communicate, follow through, and take risks.”
“I had wanted to be an attorney and go to law school and be a judge one day, (but) I was intimidated by the financial commitment. I said, I’m going to pivot. … What corporation might pay for a graduate program? I was chasing education funded by others.”
“Paying it forward does get me out of bed at 4 a.m. I’m excited to wake up and get going.”
“I got to lead the Earl Woods Scholarship initiative in 2006, and then it really started to click. The work we’re doing … we’re serving kids like me—that brought so much more value than a paycheck.”