A Mission to Give Back: Teri Schwimmer Joins AACI
Those who have known her in the tech world might be surprised to hear about Teri Schwimmer’s new job. In July 2015, Teri traded in her position as a highly successful Human Resources Director at Synaptics to become Chief Human Resources Officer at AACI, a place she had only heard of a few months before. Of this move, Teri said, “I think if leaders have the opportunity to go work for a non-profit, they should try it. It may not be for everyone, but the ability to make a difference and see the value you can add far outweighs the upside of working at a high tech company.”
Teri’s past professional experiences are tremendous. She held roles in business, marketing, and human resources across several prestigious corporate offices including Deloitte, GE, Health Net, Cisco Systems, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Seagate Technology, Juniper Networks, and Yahoo. When she first started out, she thought she would go into medicine, so she earned a BS in Biological Sciences from UC Davis. Soon after, she earned an MBA from San Jose State University and launched into high impact roles throughout Silicon Valley’s business and tech sector.
In the spring of 2015, AACI Board advisor and her friend, Glenn Osaka, approached her about making a move into the nonprofit sector. Was she interested? Was this the right time in her career? What would be the financial impact?
She did not know of AACI, but soon learned that many in her family did. Meeting with Michele Lew, President and CEO, and hearing about AACI’s impact on a community she grew up in, heightened her interest in making a transition to the nonprofit sector. “AACI services are not only for Asians, but for the entire underserved population. We are providing both health and wellness services that they may not be able to access otherwise,” she said.
Though drastically different from the high tech world, the move to AACI bridged some of Teri’s earliest career interests. As a college student, she had planned to become a cardiovascular surgeon. Teri also had a history with nonprofits: one of her first jobs was working for a hospital foundation. The rationale to accept a role at AACI became more clear.
Teri says she now experiences less bureaucracy, enabling her to develop and implement programs more quickly. She rebuilt the HR team and enjoys seeing their positive impact. She also likes having a better work-life balance. By far, Teri’s most rewarding experience has been getting to know the staff. She says, “The intent of everyone here is really to serve the mission and our clients instead of hitting the bottom line: what’s our stock price. That’s refreshing and that’s a big difference I value.”
One of the things that has made Teri so effective throughout her career is her ability to bring others along. Teri’s love for AACI has now spread to her family--her mother and niece have both started volunteering at AACI.
From the high tech world to the non-profit sector, Teri has brought her passion to grow teams, create impact, and support individuals. Teri talks excitedly about AACI’s HR future, “Hopefully in five years, we will have fully rebuilt the HR function and best serve AACI and our staff,” she said. “I also want to make sure that people have opportunities to move across and upwards at AACI and to be able to attract the best talent to AACI.”