Staff Spotlight: Dorothy Lee

Dorothy visits the Winchester Mystery House in San José
Dorothy visits the Winchester Mystery House in San José

Welcome to SVCF’s Staff Spotlight series, an occasional series in which we present Q&A-style profiles of some of our staff members. In this edition, we feature Dorothy Lee, Senior Accountant.

How long have you been at SVCF? What led you to this work?

I’ve been an employee of Silicon Valley Community Foundation since June 2021. Before that, I was a consultant with Robert Half, working with clients in various financial roles. I worked with nonprofits and tech startups in fast-paced environments similar to SVCF where the work is constantly evolving. Prior to joining the foundation, I had worked with SVCF as a consultant through my accounting role with Robert Half.

I grew interested in accounting in high school through a program that helped students explore different careers, and then I pursued it as a major in college. I liked how accounting is like a puzzle -- with assessing debits and credits and finding all the discrepancies to make sure everything balances.

Dorothy and her team have fun at the first in-person staff event in 2022
Dorothy and her team have fun at the first in-person staff event in 2022

Has your role evolved since you joined in 2021?

Officially my role hasn’t changed, but it has evolved. I joined SVCF to process grants, and that is still my core responsibility. But with my versatile skill set and my diverse background, I have been able to contribute to other projects, such as investment reconciliation and virtual currency reconciliation.

What excites you most about SVCF’s work?

I enjoy using my skills to do good for our community. As part of the grant processing team in accounting, I process checks to our grantees. I love that I am a small piece of the puzzle that adds up to big-picture impact! I also have a great team. I have never worked in an organization with people as supportive and helpful as my colleagues at SVCF.

Dorothy explores a café in Taiwan
Dorothy explores a café in Taiwan

What do you like most about working with the Finance and Accounting department?

I adore SVCF because of the people. Our department is very collaborative. My manager is so supportive — not just of my career development, but also of me as an individual. My team members are always there to support me.  We keep one another accountable such as when other staff accountants are quick to answer time-sensitive questions to our Senior Vice President of Finance who readily helps and provides clarity on a project when I need it.

What are your biggest hopes and dreams for the future of Silicon Valley?

My dream for Silicon Valley is for its wealth disparity to close. I’ve seen both extremes in the Bay Area. We have the incredible tech industry in Silicon Valley, while small businesses struggle to survive because of the extremely high costs of overhead in this region.

Dorothy created a Pokémon-themed Perler wreath for the holidays
Dorothy created a Pokémon-themed Perler wreath for the holidays

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love gardening. I’ve always liked to optimize the resources I have. For example, I’ve soaked the hearts from romaine lettuce in water to grow new leaves. Due to the drought, I re-use water that I used to wash the salad to water the garden. I’ve started to re-use takeout containers to sprout seedlings. And when my herbs need a bit of a trim, I like to take the cuttings and place them in a glass cup with water to propagate more herbs.

If you were to donate to one charity or cause, what would it be, and why?

I would donate to an organization I often visited when my family and I resided in East Oakland: East Bay Asian Youth Center (EBAYC). Neighborhood safety was a concern where I grew up in East Oakland. Hearing gunshots at night was common so having support from the staff at EBAYC was very helpful to me during my youth. EBAYC’s after-school programs were a safe haven for me to get additional support for my homework and build friendships when I was in middle school. I got to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds, and we had fun doing arts and crafts together. Having a college mentor from EBAYC really shaped me to become the person I am today.

What is something people are surprised to learn about you?

I’m pretty artsy and creative. I love using color in everything -- including all my spreadsheets! Currently, I’m really into Perler beads, which you iron together to make little tokens. I used to give them away as parting gifts when I held temporary roles at different organizations to make myself memorable.

Would you like to join the SVCF team? Check out our current job opportunities.

Curious about other staff members? Check out some of our recent Q&A’s!
Learn more about Michelle Fries, Director of Nonprofit Support Services and Leadership Investment.