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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Investor Spotlight: 2-1-1 San Diego

January 6, 2015

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We kick off our first investor spotlight of 2015 with an interview with John Ohanian, CEO of 2-1-1 San Diego, to learn more about how this valuable organization connects with the business community and makes San Diego a better place to live.
Tell us about 2-1-1 San Diego.
Most San Diegans know when there is a disaster, like a wildfire, they can dial 2-1-1 to speak to a live person 24/7 to get the most up-to-date information on evacuations, road closures and shelter information.
What most people may not know is they can turn to 2-1-1 any time to connect to more than 6,000 community and health services, including affordable health insurance to food or financial assistance, housing resources, substance abuse treatment, care for a child or parent with dementia, resources for our military and veteran community or a grandparent raising their grandchildren. With thousands of services in our community, finding help can sometimes seem impossible. And that’s where 2-1-1 San Diego comes in. 
2-1-1 also provides vital trend information on community needs to foundations and government officials to assist leaders assess and plan for a better future for the San Diego region.
What makes San Diego a good place to operate an organization like 2-1-1?
Why 2-1-1 thrives in San Diego The secret behind 2-1-1’s service is its uniqueness and flexibility in working with thousands of providers to streamline how people access resources in our community. It’s this collaborative spirit of organizations and leaders throughout San Diego that make this region a great place to operate a social utility like 2-1-1. 
While 2-1-1 is not a government agency, but rather a local nonprofit organization with an established business model of fee-for-service contracts, we have strong and longstanding partnerships with corporate, philanthropic and government partners like the County of San Diego, SDG&E, Qualcomm, and Susan G. Komen that have changed the San Diego landscape of how people connect to community resources. 
Whether it’s establishing technology roadmaps together to make sure 2-1-1 is ahead of the curve to better serve the community, or providing a one-stop-shop for people seeking resources for breast cancer, to utilizing 2-1-1’s contact center platform to raise awareness about benefits callers are entitled to, 2-1-1 and our valuable partners work together to meet the needs of our community.
San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company or organization that is at the top of its game. 
For 40 years, Nuffer, Smith, Tucker has been a leading community pillar in San Diego. Offering all the bells and whistles of a high profile corporate entity, Nuffer, Smith, Tucker fashions itself a boutique communications firm, providing trusting and intimate client/executive relationships and high-quality creative services through reliable and trusting staff who take clients on journeys to explore possibilities. They take ideas and create a vision, and then bring that vision to life. 
What do you anticipate for your organization in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego? 
At our 10-year milestone, 2-1-1 has made more than 2.5 million connections to community, health and disaster services.  
When we reflect on those connections, we see our community connecting with us in multiple channels, beyond our easy to remember 3-digit phone number.  We are developing mobile websites, apps and engaging our social media platforms and chat capabilities.   We envision a community-wide ecosystem of organizations that share data, resources, and solutions; and ultimately where customers, 2-1-1 and service providers work toward solutions together. 
We are currently working with our public safety partners to ensure that 2-1-1 can provide assistance directly with First Responders when they face families and individuals with daily non-emergency needs such as food, housing and other health care options.  We are also building on existing partnerships with fire, police and other jurisdictions to share critical information during times crisis. 
In our immediate future, we are kicking off our 10-year anniversary at the Annual 2-1-1 Connections Luncheon on February 20 at the San Diego Convention Center.