It’s Nice to be Nice

Local nonprofit taps Sempra exec Debra Reed for top honors

Posted on October 1, 2018

So, what’s a nice “gal” like Debra Reed doing on Saturday, October 27? She’ll be at the elegant Manchester Grand Hyatt where she will be honored by the Nice Guys of San Diego, an all-volunteer nonprofit that has helped San Diegans in need for nearly four decades. Each year, the group selects a “Nice Guy of the Year,” a man or woman who has provided time, money, and support to change lives for the better. Reed, executive chairman of Sempra Energy, follows in the footsteps of dozens of civic and charitable leaders, including former California First Lady Gayle Wilson, the first woman to be honored.

Debra Reed

Debra Reed

“It’s serendipitous that this year is the ‘Year of the Woman,’” says Nice Guys President Vincent Bartolotta. But he insists that had nothing to do with Reed’s selection, pointing to her long record of achievements. “Her background, with respect to her position in the industry and her charitable efforts, made her the perfect candidate. She’s there because of her own merits, not because she’s a woman. She deserves to be the ‘Nice Guy of the Year.’”

Reed’s resume is indeed impressive when it comes to both private and public service. She became Sempra’s first female officer ten years after she was hired, rising to the rank of CEO of the Fortune 500 company from 2011-2018. Fortune magazine has recognized her as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Business” and Forbes has named her one of the nation’s most influential female CEOs.

Reed’s volunteer service is equally remarkable, ranging from service on high profile boards to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research and other causes. She currently serves on Rady Children’s Hospital’s Board of Trustees, as well as the hospital’s Board of Directors. She also sits on the Chairman’s Competitiveness Council of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, which she formerly chaired.

For the third straight year, Reed is involved with next month’s Padres Pedal the Cause, serving as team captain for Team Sempra/SDG&E, donating $300,000 in underwriting and raising more than $200,000 for cancer research. She also championed a Habitat for Humanity project in Escondido, where nearly a thousand employees built a house for a wounded veteran and spruced up neighboring homes. As co-chair of the 2017 USGA Pro-Am Golf Championship, Reed helped to net more than $200,000 for Pro Kids/The First Tee of San Diego and the Southern California Golf Association Foundation.

Reed’s efforts have resulted in many accolades including “Woman of the Year” from California Women Lead in 2018, the Girl Scouts’ “Cool Woman Award” in 2016, the Distinguished Alumni Award from USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering in 2013, and a Lifetime Laureate in Junior Achievement’s Business Hall of Fame in 2006.

Her  most recent accolade is from the Nice Guys, a 150-member organization, which provided more than $750,000 to underserved San Diegans last year. Members pay for any operating costs, so 100 percent of funds go to the needy. The nonprofit has raised more than $19 million since its founding in 1979. sdniceguys.com   Andrea Naversen

Kristy Gregg, Lynne Krepak, Vince Bartolotta, Debra Reed, Gale Sostek, and Molly Cartmill