Mimi Lee is one of San Diego’s most remarkable community champions. She is a former teacher who specialized in students with special needs. After teaching, her second career was to advocate for special needs students at Grossmont Community College as the Chair of Disabled Student Services. During her 22-year tenure, she served on the Academic Senate and the Grossmont Hospital Rehabilitation Advisory Board, achieved the rank of Professor, and was named a Grossmont College Distinguished Chair. She was also honored by the El Cajon Soroptomists International as a Woman of Action.
In her 16 years of retirement, she has become involved in behavioral health advocacy as a dedicated volunteer and fundraiser. She actively supports Jewish Family Services, where she serves on the Behavioral Health Committee and also chairs an annual Behavioral Health Awareness luncheon event for 250 professionals, community consumers and family members. The San Diego City Council commemorated “Mimi Lee Day” on May 16, 2017 for her role in this event.
Lee has also continued to serve her community by encouraging young musicians and building future audiences for classical music. She volunteers as Administrative Vice President and Membership Chair with Advocates for Classical Music. Run by a group of retired volunteers, they contribute to San Diego’s community by providing free classroom visits to prepare as many as 16,000 students annually before they attend youth concerts given by Classics 4 Kids and the San Diego Symphony. Lee’s focus is to teach the students what to expect in the performance so that they are prepared and inspired to learn and appreciate the music.
Lee’s passion is rooted in the belief that music education is therapeutic, providing a source of comfort and bringing stabilization to children’s lives. Perhaps the greatest impact she has made is her ongoing dedication to providing equal access to quality music education. Advocates for Classical Music has raised funds annually to provide free tickets and transportation to concerts for children at low-income schools. Recently, Lee established the Caryl Lees Witte Fund with Classics 4 Kids to continue ensuring that students from underprivileged schools can receive full or partially subsidized tickets and transportation. Lee also hopes to engage new diverse audiences and volunteers by chairing Advocates for Classical Music’s new Diversity Task Force, which seeks to add Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to join their team of music advocates.
With her many connections to patrons of the arts throughout San Diego, Lee has also been responsible for securing new sources of funding for music education by introducing Classics 4 Kids to new supporters and sponsors. As an active member of Classics 4 Kids’ Advisory Board, she has chaired 19 fundraisers in private homes and successfully recruited celebrity chefs to host events. She was recognized by the North County Philanthropy Council for her volunteerism and was the recipient of the STAR Award from the San Diego Performing Arts League. Lee’s ongoing dedication and passion for music education and behavioral health will truly leave a lasting legacy to San Diegans.