San Diego native Louarn Sorkin and her husband Alan, a transplant from Chicago, were very intrigued when they were first introduced to the concept of Social Venture Partners nearly a decade ago. She was frustrated with the level of philanthropy in San Diego and “SVP was a delightfully creative idea,” says Louarn. “Pooling money and giving expertise – it just sounded like a great concept.”
That was the beginning of San Diego Social Venture Partners, as the Sorkin’s helped to launch the group locally in 2001. Louarn and Alan remain deeply involved in San Diego philanthropy.
“Much of the appeal of the Social Venture Partner model was the opportunity to play an ongoing role,” says Louarn, who spent most of her career as a corporate trainer in the real estate, securities and insurance businesses. “It wouldn’t be just writing a check to a nonprofit organization,” she says, “but writing a check and having a part in their growth and sustainability.”
That ongoing relationship is a key point of the value of SVP. Louarn says she is particularly impressed with the SVP Partners’ expertise and expanded services through the Spark Resource Teams and their goal to help our nonprofits grow become sustainable and strategic.
Part of her role as a member of the Investment Working Group is helping determine which candidates are the best fits. “One of the most important things we need to know is if the nonprofit organization is coachable,” she says. “Do they only want our money or do they also want our expertise?”
Social Venture Partners has grown since it began, but is staying true to its mission, Louarn says. “It’s morphing a bit, however it is all about the same theme: making good choices about investing in the nonprofit organizations of San Diego County,” she says. “Because of our experience with SVP, Alan and I feel much better equipped to make wise choices as to whom we give our time and money.” Louarn served on the Board of Directions as well as the Social Chairman for ten years, planning quarterly parties, and has served on the Investment Working Group, fund development, board development working groups and the nominating committee.
In addition to being one of the Founding Partners of SVP, Louarn also co-founded Just in Time For Foster Youth, a nonprofit organization that furnishes apartments and dorm rooms as well as many other programs for young adults who are transitioning from foster care to independent life on their own. After serving on their board for four years and organizing their fundraising events, she transitioned off the board to serve as one of their advisors. Louarn served on the board of Directors of the La Jolla Guild for the San Diego Opera for nine years and their board President for two terms. She has been involved with many charitable organizations such as St. Germaine Children’s Charity Board of Directors, the Salvation Army Woman’s Auxiliary Board of Directors since 2009, Country Friends, San Diego Opera Counsel of Guilds, San Diego Grantmakers, the Single Professional Society for the Performing Arts Board of Directors, Friends of Children Board of Directors and several groups working with abused children. She is also a member of the Village Garden Club of La Jolla and loves working in her two English and French style gardens.
In 2009, Louarn was honored by being named a “Woman of Dedication” at the 44th Annual Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon. “I like to fly beneath the radar,” she says, “however this was a wonderful honor.” She also received the 10News Leadership Award for her charitable work in San Diego. “So much for flying under the radar!”
Louarn loves traveling the world with her husband, Alan, as well as commuting to Boise to visit her son, Craig, daughter-in-law, Wendy and granddaughters, Rileigh and Parker.
When back in San Diego, Louarn has many hobbies: gardening, crocheting “Happy Hats” for children going through chemotherapy and rescuing rabbits.
From 2005 until 2019, Louarn crocheted more than 650 hats and scarves that were distributed through the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary for seniors and homeless programs and transitioning foster youth. In 2008, she institutionalized the practice by starting the “Creative Yarn Group” organization to crochet hats, scarves and baby items for local charities. The group goal each year is a minimum of 1000 knit and crocheted items for holiday distribution. In 2019 they donated 1242 items. They donate their creations to the Salvation Army senior and homeless programs, transitioning foster youth at “Just In Time”, children going through chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital, HomeFront Military Mothers, and Community Resource Center teenagers,
And the rabbit… “Yes, we have a house rabbit – she weighs less than three pounds, is litter box trained and eats food out of a little rabbit shaped bowl,” Louarn says of her ninth rescued bunny, “She is a sweet, fluffy white “Diva” bunny with a tremendous amount of attitude.”