Meet Marineke Vandervort

CEO of the Boys & Girls Club-North San Diego

As the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito turns 53 years old, Marineke Vandervort,  serves as the CEO of the seven beloved Clubs in North San Diego region since 2015.  She brings a distinctive level of professional training and passion to the Clubs, as an advocate for the power of strong mentors and high educational goals. Vandervort earned her Human Resources Management certificate from UCSD, and completed the Harvard Business School Not For Profit Business Management Program. When she is not at the helm of the seven successful Clubs in the San Deiguito region, she is at home and active with her family, raising her two daughters in the community she grew up in, having attended Torrey Pines high school in Del Mar and swam as a top athlete in the region through her twenties.

Tell us about a GRITTY MOMENT in your life that has forced you to learn what you are truly made of…
In 2015, at 38 years old my organization (Boys and Girls Clubs of San Dieguito) asked me to step in as interim Executive Director. Six months later “Interim” was dropped and my title was changed to CEO. I became the organizations first female CEO in its’ 50 year history. With this new role I transitioned from cohort to supervisor and overnight became responsible for everyone and everything, and of course ultimately the success of the organization.
GUTS: How did you “grow guts” and be brave enough to get through your “gritty moment”? Were you afraid? Where did you find your courage? How did facing that moment affect your confidence? Did you feel more confident afterward?
I’ve been gifted with parents who always led me to believe I could be and do anything. I was afraid, but with the new leadership role it was incredibly important to exhibit confidence in order to reassure staff everything would be okay. I believed I had the skills and ability to get the job done and even more I had the grit and dedication to make sure I could make the decisions necessary to turn the organization around and get the right people in the right seat. With each correct decision my confidence grew and I earned my teams respect.
RESILIENCE: What did you learn from pushing through your “gritty moment”? What helped you “not give up” and persevere?
Growing up as a competitive swimmer has given me the grit to get through everything in life from losing my brother at 16 from cancer to becoming a working single mom and more. 10 practices a week, before and after school, when most of my friends were having fun or sleeping, I was training and learned the significant of dedication and perseverance.
IMPERFECTION: How do you deal with failure and making mistakes? Did your “gritty moment” force you to learn and grow?
It’s important to accept responsibility and to be willing to learn. Life would be really boring without mistakes. I’ve made my fair share. All of them have made me who I am today and I wouldn’t change a thing. Focusing on the learning opportunity verses the mistake is essential, otherwise you’ll be stuck.
TEAM: What role did your support system play in helping you through this challenging time? What role has this “team” had in your life?
My biggest supporters were my two daughters. At the time I became CEO they were 9 and 12 years old. They were proud of me and never once complained about having dinner in the conference room or staying late and waiting for me to finish the job. I didn’t realize the lesson I was teaching them by default. I know now because at 13 and 16 years old they have grown to have the same values and sense of commitment in their lives. And now I truly am the proud one. They are my team and we are each others biggest supporters.
What advice would you give to your younger “gritty girl self”?
Trust yourself and when doubt creeps in kick it out. Fast.

Thank you Marineke for sharing your GRIT! 

Connect with Marinkeke

Instagram: @bgcsandieguito