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NCG Mourns the Passing of Our Beloved Office Mom, Jenny Chinn

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

It is with great sadness that NCG announces the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Jenny Chinn. Jenny joined the team 18 years ago and held the longest tenure of anyone ever to have worked at NCG. During that time, she became the backbone of the organization – a steady, cheerful source of support for everyone who got to work with her. Her official title was Senior Operations Manager, but we often referred to her as our office mom.  

At its essence, NCG’s work is about building community. Jenny understood this on a deep and personal level. It was in Jenny’s nature to treat everyone like family and she did that daily by creating an inviting space for staff and the NCG community. She welcomed everyone with a warm smile and always made sure we were well-fed and had enough coffee. She decorated the office with plants and colorful furniture, and she took the time to ask about our well-being and that of our loved ones. She offered unsolicited advice on practically everything, but never bothered to gloat when some of us failed to take that advice and inevitably realized the error of our ways. And she always appreciated a selfie, a good bargain, or a bowl of ramen. 

“Jenny may have been the office mom, but to me, she was a younger sister,” shared Steve Barton, NCG’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. “She never stopped reminding me how MUCH younger she was and made me smile daily with her unique ‘Good morning, sunshine!’ greeting. She brought sunshine to NCG for 18 glorious years and we will miss her deeply.” 

“Jenny was my partner,” said former NCG President and CEO Ellen LaPointe. “She made me feel welcome from the first moment I set foot in the door, and she was always at least two steps ahead of me in our work. She got things done, she was a keeper of our history and stories, and she kept us smiling. We were all so blessed to work with her and to know her. There will never be anyone like her again.” 

This past year, Jenny fought a tough battle with cancer. On May 12, 2022, her battle ended.  We plan to honor her contribution to our community and will continue to celebrate her life. As we grieve her loss, we will keep her family in our hearts. We send our deep condolences to her husband, two sons, parents, and three siblings.   

We will love and miss you forever, Jenny. We envision you at peace on a warm beach, somewhere over the rainbow. 

More Reflections

Dwayne S. Marsh, President and CEO, Northern California Grantmakers 
The depth of the loss helps us appreciate the value of the gift. I’ve never met anyone whose work or life was touched by Jenny that didn’t carry with them a remnant of the warmth with which she went through life. Our lives were incredibly blessed to share in that warmth, and its absence will be profound. But our memories of her will be powerful companions on the journey forward.  
 
Alice Cabrera Bryant, Director or Finance and Operation, Northern California Grantmakers
She had me at, “hello." I worked with Jenny as her Manager, for almost 5 years, but the truth was, Jenny managed me many times during some challenging days. She always knew just how to manage me by saying things like ‘don’t worry, it’ll get done’ or ‘don’t worry, just drink wine.’ She always had the perfect amount of tenacity and grace that was needed to make sure everyone at NCG was taken care of. Jenny put everyone first, she was selfless. Seeing everyone happy and in community was the center of Jenny’s world. Jenny loved traveling to Hawaii for vacation. She was the longest employee NCG’s ever had, and rightfully so, had the most accrued vacation time (it truly may go down in NCG history)! Jenny called Hawaii her happy place and visited at least 2-3 times a year. There is no doubt in my mind that she is there now, sitting on the white sandy beaches, counting each wave that rolls in, and eating her favorite Hawaiian dessert “Haupia”.  I am blessed to have met and worked with such a beautiful soul and I will truly miss my “sweet Jenny.” She will forever be remembered as NCG’s office mom and the heart of the office.
 
Marisela Orta, former Communications Manager, Northern California Grantmakers 

I worked with Jenny for ten years. During that time, her eldest son went from playing with toys under her desk to becoming a young man, and her younger son, now in college, was just a baby. I cannot imagine my time at NCG without Jenny. Her quick sense of humor, her willingness to roll up her sleeves and work, and her fierce loyalty to all of us were a gift. It won’t be the same without her. 

 

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We invite you to share a message or memory in tribute of Jenny in the comment box below.

 

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Nicole Giles's picture
Submitted by Nicole Giles on

It's been impossible to make sense of such a profound loss. Jenny was a light in every sense and she was someone who truly made NCG feel like a family in her unofficial role as our office momma. It was a blessing to know her, work with her, laugh with her, and experience her genuine compassion, love, and warmth. She had a personality like no other and her ability to bring about the biggest smile with just a simple "Good morning" is incomparable. We will miss her dearly and carry her always.

Phuong Quach's picture
Submitted by Phuong Quach on

Jenny knew that I was juggling caregiving for both my mom and daughter outside of work. Once or twice a week, I would have to rush out of the office early to meet up with my mom in her nursing home. On those days, Jenny would have a container of homemade congee ready for me at the door for my mom's dinner.  And, when my daughter came to the office with me, Jenny was always ready with a present and cookie for her. That was just the way she was, always thinking and caring for others. Thank you for teaching me the value of daily generosity and kindness. I miss you, my dear friend.    

Sarah Frankfurth's picture
Submitted by Sarah Frankfurth on

Jenny, you were truly the heart and anchor for all of us here, and it’s hard to imagine NCG without you. I miss your happy, fun, and loving self. I remember first meeting you when I came in for an interview, and thinking that this must be a good place to work because you were so kind. You took care of all of us, and we are all lucky to have had you in our lives. We won’t ever forget you. I hope your spirit is enjoying an iced green tea from Starbucks on a warm Hawaiian beach right now.

Allison Magee's picture
Submitted by Allison Magee on

As the first person we saw when entering NCG's offices, Jenny was the face of the organization. Her positive, warm spirit was always so welcoming and engaging. Once Jenny found out about my candy habit, she made sure to have one or two pieces ready for me when I came in for meetings (always to good stuff, not the left over peppermints...). I miss her, but feel blessed for having the opportunity to know and work with her.

Caitlin Brune's picture
Submitted by Caitlin Brune on

A few lines from Mary Oliver's poem The Buddha's Last Instructions come to mind when I think of Jenny:  
“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.

What a profound privilege, to know someone so radiant with care, competency, and community-mindedness. There will be a Jenny-sized very large hole at the center of NCG for a while, and rightfully so. What an immense spirit in a tiny body. We will miss her dearly.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on

Such incredibly sad news. She was a rock for me when I was Interim President at NCG and was our little mother hen taking care of everyone. I so enjoyed working with Jenny during my time there and of course as a member since. Always a bright shining presence when you would walk through the doors of the office. And when I think about her - even now - I can't help but smile. She had that effect on people and she will be deeply missed.

Linda Moll, Rosenberg Foundation's picture
Submitted by Linda Moll, Ros... on

Whenever I came to NCG for Emergency Loan Fund meetings or to lunch with my friend Myra Bicknell, Jenny was always so kind and welcoming. I'm so sorry to hear this sad news. What a loss for all who know and loved her. She was a bright light.

Carrie Avery's picture
Submitted by Carrie Avery on

Every time I walked into the NCG office, there was Jenny, smiling and irrepressible. Her energy was infectious, and she set the tone and culture for NCG as a welcoming and positive place. Her loss will be felt by the many people who experienced the positive impact she had on the world. Sending love and good wishes to her family and her NCG family. She will be missed.

Emily Katz's picture
Submitted by Emily Katz on

Much has already been said of Jenny's warmth and vitality. I would add nurturance. Around lunch time, Jenny would start warming up ingredients for a communal meal she herself had masterminded. One of us would bring beans, another tortillas, a third cheese and salsa, until a meal for half a dozen people was assembled. Jenny was not too fond of vegetables, but she always made sure we had them.

Any leftovers we packed up, wrapped in half a dozen layers of cellophane, and sent home to feed the kids.

Visits with Jenny during her illness always ended with a gift of a plant. I was a little embarassed. Wasn't I supposed to bring her gifts? But she insisted.

Now, as I look around my living room, I see new shoots bursting from the plants she sent home with me. One vine, whose tendrils she formed into a heart, was my Valentines Day gift. As its grown, I've trained the vines back around the shape she formed. The lobes now have five loops each.

They are doing exactly the job she must have intended; reminding me of her vibrance and the love we shared over hundreds of moments eating, laughing, and unraveling the mysteries of our lives.

Krystle Chipman's picture
Submitted by Krystle Chipman on

Jenny, you will forever be my office mom. I will always remember our walks to the ferry building, lunches at the office, and all of the fun you brought to work. Thank you for always looking out for me and our whole team. I loved your determination to get things done the way you wanted them done (because that's what would be best for everyone), your profound thoughtfulness that went in to caring for everyone on our team, and the love your poured out everyday. I miss you so much.

Roger Doughty, Horizons Foundation's picture
Submitted by Roger Doughty, ... on

I am so saddened by Jenny's passing. All the years that I went to NCG's offices for this or for that, Jenny was always there to greet me, always friendly, always asking if there's anything she can do to help. Horizons held after work-hours board meetings at the NCG offices for several years, and she would not only to get us all situated, but she'd stay past the time I imagine she would normally go home just to be certain. She never seemed rushed or short, even though her position put her in the center of so much. My Horizons colleagues send their condolences as well to her husband, family, and the NCG team.

Alan Kwok's picture
Submitted by Alan Kwok on

Barely awake and grumpy from my flights to the office, Jenny - in her high-pitched voice - would yell out, "Goooood morrrrning!" as she greeted me. How could you not smile (or laugh)? Jenny brought lightness and optimism to the office and to everyone she met. She also fed everyone, and sometimes shoved food at you to take home. She'd talk about her kids at the office kitchen table and our favorite Asian snacks. Even in the virtual world, she would brighten up my and everyone's day with her beautiful (and tacky) virtual background of an Hawaiian beach. I will miss your smile, your generous spirit, and your huge smile. (Photo: We didn't plan on matching our office outfits, but we totally matchy matchy!) May you keep smiling wherever you are.

Jessica Weare's picture
Submitted by Jessica Weare on

For me, Jenny was the heartbeat of NCG. She was always so fiercely human -- looking you right in the eye, giving a perfect compliment to put a new visitor at ease, giggling conspiratorially in the corner of a crowded room, making sure everyone had food and was comfortable. It's probably a silly cliche to bring up the fact that philanthropy means love of humanity, but it does, and Jenny loved humans and was great at being a human. I'll miss her terribly.

Chris Murchison's picture
Submitted by Chris Murchison on

I once joked that I wanted to record Jenny's "good morning" and be able to play it back on demand. Now I wish I had done that. Jenny had a spicy joie de vivre. She was honest, loving, joyful, and resilient. And I loved how much she loved Hawaii and the glow she had around every trip there. I miss her spirit immensely. Thank you NCG for honoring her in this beautiful way. Sending big love to all of you.

Sai Seigel's picture
Submitted by Sai Seigel on

This is heartbreaking news. Jenny was a such a ray of light. I had the pleasure of working with Jenny for four years at NCG. She was always quick to smile, laugh, and tease - she was perpetually cheerful and reminded me often to not take things and myself so seriously. Jenny loved food and would get us out of the office in search of her latest craving. We had a shared love of crafting and would bring in jewelry that we made to compare notes and tips. Jenny would sometimes replicate something I made - hers always looked better, but she was too modest to brag. I will remember Jenny for her bright smile, her love for her two sons, and her amazing friendship with Sandy. She will be dearly missed.

Jenny Chan's picture
Submitted by Jenny Chan on

Whenever I came to the NCG office for a meeting I always lingered afterwards to catch up with her and every time she would encourage me to take more candy (advice I usually took). Jenny and I had a bond that all Jennys do with each other, which is that familial comfort of being in the same room with the same name. But it is no surprise to me to read that Jenny actually had that closeness with everyone who she came across. It has been heartwarming to read everyone's stories of Jenny's deep generosity and her daily joyful, loving energy. Thank you NCG for inviting us to share in this process of honoring Jenny. Sending healing energy and love to all of us in her community.

Nora Alcala's picture
Submitted by Nora Alcala on

I am so sorry to learn of her passing.

When I worked for Horizon’s Foundation, NCG generously allowed the foundation use of the
conference room space for the monthly Board meetings.

Jenny was always so genuinely kind and welcoming.
I give my condolences to her entire family.

May She Rest in Power.

Nora Alcala

Cj Callen's picture
Submitted by Cj Callen on

The loss of Jenny is heartbreaking. In my time at NCG, she was an anchor and a shining light. When I left, and later came back, she radiated her incredible warmth and welcoming presence. I felt at home. Yes, sadly gone but forever in our hearts.

Sandy Fong-Navalta's picture
Submitted by Sandy Fong-Navalta on

I knew Jenny long before she came to NCG. In a serendipitous way, it was her sister who introduced me to the manager of collaborative funds who hired me in 2000. In 2003, I asked her to come in as a temp, to help me with stuffing envelopes and other administrative tasks. She was so quick and efficient that they made her a full time permanent employee in 2004 and she stayed there ever since. She was my backbone and best friend. She even introduced me to my husband in 2005. She saw something in him and I resisted and fought her. But, you know Jenny. When she wants something done, she will persist and insist until you give in. I'm so glad she did because I've been with him for over 17 years and married for over 13.

Her dream was to retire in Hawaii. Her paradise. There was no place she was happier. She loved the people, weather, and most importantly, the FOOD! If you knew Jenny, you know she loved food. Especially sushi and other Asian foods. The only time I saw Jenny upset was when I was 10 minutes late to a reservation and she was standing outside the restaurant with her arms folded and a big pout on her face. She was not happy. She was hangry! But, other than that, her motto was always, "It's all good," or "It is what it is." She never held a grudge and she was always helping others.

My life will never be the same without her, but I am so honored and privileged to have spent the last year closely with her. She fought so hard until the end. Even as her body betrayed her, her heart was strong and full. Thank you NCG for your beautiful tribute and for celebrating her. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. XOXO

Wendy Thomas's picture
Submitted by Wendy Thomas on

Let's face it, no one would choose to have an audit. Sometimes you just have to get through them. I met Jenny in 2014 when I came for an interview as a prospective auditor for NCG. Did she treat me differently knowing I was a stranger from the outside? Not at all. She greeted me with her warm smile and "do you need coffee?" This gesture may seem small but it speaks volumes to Jenny's personality....genuine, funny (during an audit, what?), always making sure I had everything I needed. Since 2015 (minus a COVID year or two), I have been treated with the same kindness as a donor walking through those heavy NCG doors. Everyone has a choice in how they treat others, and she always me feel right at home. Sending big hugs and love to all of you at NCG. Take care. Wendy (the Auditor)

Irma L Moreno's picture
Submitted by Irma L Moreno on

I am honored to have met Jenny when we both worked at NCG. She not only became my good friend, she became family. My children and I have shared memories of Jenny this last week and we all agree that Jenny was kind, caring and funny. She always had a red envelope for them for Lunar New Year. I will always cherish the trip she and I took to Las Vegas. We ate, of course, and shopped. I will miss my “Honey” (as we called each other). My love to her husband, sons, and family. May she rest in paradise.

June Sugiyama's picture
Submitted by June Sugiyama on

I've not seen Jenny in a while but I know if I were to see her again, it would have been like time never passed. She was always so sweet and so caring, but never intrusive. I only used to see her when I went to NCG, but it was like she was always a friend. Her infectious smile was something else. If I can only strive to be half the incredible human she was, if I'm lucky enough to go where she went and see that she's there, I would know that I ended up in the right place.

Kehau Potter 's picture
Submitted by Kehau Potter on

Aloha from Hawaii.. My Life has been blessed by my "Sister from another Mister." since meeting Jenny while playing pokemon with another friend. Jenny is truly a friend that has become family. A Sister with a heart of Gold. She Introduced me to snacks from Trader Joe's that I never knew existed.. I would tell her don't need to send anything, but she would tell me, "I don't hear very well." Everytime she would arrive bearing gifts, then when she would go back home, she would send "seasonal boxes" of snacks that would just show up randomly. She never forgot a Birthday.. I am gonna miss going out to eat Hawaiian food, and Shimazu Shave Ice.. Jenny Embraced the Hawaiian Culture, and Everyone she met while visiting here. She will truly be missed.. Aloha A Hui Hou! (Till we meet again) Hoomaha I Ke Aloha (Rest in Love).

Diane Parnes's picture
Submitted by Diane Parnes on

Jenny’s passing brings me deep sorrow. I was Board Chair of NCG when we created the organization’s current core values list and one in particular perfectly epitomizes Jenny’s personality - JOYFULNESS! Her warm and positive spirit offered a welcoming greeting to anyone entering NCG’s office and exhibited inclusiveness and belonging. I will miss her joyful smile and beautiful soul. Mahalo nui loa (many thanks) for all of your service and maluhia kuu hoa (peace my friend)! - Diane Parnes

Erik Nelson's picture
Submitted by Erik Nelson on

Jenny and I go back to the mid 2000's when I first started doing IT work for NCG. She noticed early on that I never had time to get lunch as I was dashing around between clients. After that, she always had a sandwich, apple and cookie from Specialties waiting for me when she knew I'd be working at NCG. She also always had goodies for me to take home for my kids, like green tea Kit Kat's and Pocky Sticks. We talked a lot about our kids, trading stories of the challenges and joys of parenting. I always listened to her words of wisdom and sage advice, as it was almost always spot on. I loved her sense of humor, sometimes wry, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes goofy, but always warm and friendly. She also worked really hard at NCG and was very good at what she did. She knew how to get things done and I could always count on her to follow up on anything I needed help with. I can honestly say that of all my clients and their staff that I work with, I most looked forward to visiting NCG and chatting with Jenny. She just brought happiness to anyone who interacted with her. I will greatly miss her, as I know everyone at NCG, her friends, and family will as well. I expect that when it's my time to go to where she is now, she'll greet me warmly, give a silly grin, and pull out a sandwich, apple and cookie. Then we'll sit down and chat about old times.

Daniel Lau's picture
Submitted by Daniel Lau on

Jenny, remember when I tried to eat some of your dessert from your birthday lunch and you took the spoon from me and swooped in front? That's what I love about you. You knew what you wanted and went for it haha! But really, you would take the first bite and then tell everyone else to eat the rest because you cared about us so much. Thank you for always taking care of us, making sure we had enough to eat, the office had everything we needed, and making me laugh at least 5 times a day. I have never worked somewhere that felt so much like a family and that is because of you. There aren't words to describe what it's like without you but we are all carrying forward with our Jenny lessons and Jenny ways. I miss you so much.

Myra Bicknell's picture
Submitted by Myra Bicknell on

I met Jenny when I came on Board as NCG's Director of Finance and Operations. We worked on many projects together, including moving the office twice!
She always had a cheerful take on things and often helped me re-gain my perspective when things seemed too much.

We each had a long commute from the South Bay to the City, and shared a sense of solidarity around how that impacted our lives. I loved hearing her gardening plans - she planted so many fruit trees in San Jose,and she planned to pick fruit from in her retirement. I'm so sorry to hear that she never got to do that.

Sending lots of love to her boys and family, and to her chosen NCG family.