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Community Profile: Sonya Stauffer, Hillcrest Business Association executive director

SAN DIEGO -- Sonya Stauffer has worn numerous “hats.” By the time she stumbled across a job listing for a position with Hillcrest Business Association, she had worked throughout the Southwest in banking, real estate and economic development.

Once she read in the ad that the job was for executive director, she knew it was perfect for her. There was not one requirement or skill she had not proven in previous positions, she said. In addition, it would allow her to reconnect with the community that is dear to her. Stauffer was correct in assuming she was the perfect fit for the job, and was appointed executive director last year.

Stauffer speaks with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News about her new role and the vast potential she sees in the association.

Age: 52

Hometown: Seattle

Single or taken: Single

How many years have you been in San Diego?

Two years permanently, and two years in 2008. Prior to that, I traveled here every other month for 10 years.

How did you get started with Hillcrest Business Association?

I saw an ad on Craigslist for the position though I hadn't even decided to switch careers at that point. It was a thought, but until I saw the advertisement for ED, I was not serious about it. When I saw it, it was perfect for me. There was not one requirement I had not done with my previous positions, and it was a community that I could be connected with again and make a difference.

What are some of your duties as executive director of the HBA?

Wow this is a big list! I oversee a maintenance team, security, attend several committee meetings per month including our Board, Executive, Beautification, and Marketing meetings, plus Hillcrest Town Council, Uptown Planners and Uptown Community Parking District – not to mention the numerous and various meetings with sponsors and businesses. Keeping updated and involved on what is happening in Hillcrest is a huge part. Lately it has been meetings on the IHO and SANDAG Bike Route. I have budgets, grants and contracts to manage. Special events are a large part of the HBA office with 10 events a year from the small Movie Night to CityFest. Our planning and marketing for events to promote business in Hillcrest is a large percentage of what we do. I have a lot of things I want to implement within the HBA for the businesses and I am looking forward to it.

What motivates you to stay involved in/committed to the neighborhood?

I have always been dedicated to business and entrepreneurship. The hard work, the commitment, success has always driven me. I like to see people and projects succeed - I like progress. After being here for four months now, I have created some great relationships with some of the business owners. Their desire to succeed and provide an amazing product for the consumer keeps me going. I have a wonderful team in my office and Board of Directors who also dedicate their time to support the businesses in Hillcrest and their success.

What are the "well-kept" secrets Hillcrest has, by way of dining, events, or nightlife, that you’d recommend to a visitor?

We have some amazing dining spots and they are equally delicious and different. There is a little hot dog stand on University that is a little "hole in the wall” – he makes great New York-style hot dogs and it's all word of mouth. Oh yes, and East Village now has homemade baked cookies that are very addictive. I think as far as events, the best kept secret is the Movie Night – it's a fun little family event held in the Egyptian Quarter. It's held two times a year, we have pop-up art booths and it's just a fun event for everyone.

Any fun facts or trivia about yourself we otherwise may not know?

I love to ride motorcycles! My dad has had one since I was little and I have always been an enthusiast. I snow ski and I lived in Utah for 30 years and I love to take road trips to get the "back to nature" with Mountains, camping, fishing and fresh mountain air.

What sorts of things do you do to enrich your social life outside of work?

I have been a huge volunteer over the years and I always said I felt my best when I was volunteering. I attend mixers, socials and I have a great group of friends and family whom I do many things with.

If you could host a dinner party and invite three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

Albert Einstein – because he could see what technology would do to us socially before it was even invented. "I fear the day technology exceeds human interaction". Michael Jackson – he was a great musician and he produced some of my favorite songs. Teddy Roosevelt – "He grabbed the bull by the horns" and got things done. I want to invite a fourth – Queen Elizabeth, a strong amazing woman with a lot to talk about.