Last month, Dan Gensler quietly chalked up another victory in the arena of charitable giving. He chaired Rotary Foundation’s “Millions for Hope” gala at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, culminating a campaign in which members of all Rotary Clubs throughout San Diego and Imperial counties raised and identified more than $31 million in donations and bequests to the foundation for HOPE: health, overcoming poverty and education.
Gensler’s service within the Coronado community and philanthropic leadership that extends internationally is at the heart of his selection as the 2015 Citizen of the Year by Coronado Private Bank.
Rotary is just one of the many avenues of service that Gensler — the founder and president of The Gensler Group, a Coronado-based financial planning and wealth management company — is engaged in.
He is the immediate past chairman of the Coronado Hospital Foundation and a board member of Sharp Coronado Hospital. “It’s been an amazing opportunity to get to know the leadership in the Sharp system,” Gensler said. “And to see all that has been accomplished and is planned. It all stems from the community’s desire to have a hospital of quality to serve our needs.”
Gensler holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, a master’s degree in financial planning with an emphasis on wealth management and is a certified financial planner.
He is the co-author of Essential Truths about Investing: a Guide for Managing your Life Savings and has earned recognition as a Five-Star “Best in Client Satisfaction” wealth manager in San Diego Magazine consistently since 2007; he has also continuously been voted the top wealth manager in Coronado Lifestyle magazine’s annual readership polls.
Given his financial acumen, it is not surprising that Gensler was tapped to head the finance council at Sacred Heart Catholic Church and is chair of the investment subcommittee for Coronado Yacht Club.
Reflecting on his involvement with Rotary and Sharp Coronado Hospital, Gensler pointed to two mentors, Bob Watson and Steve Haley, whom he calls his “guardian angels.” Watson, a former Rotary Club of Coronado president and district governor who died in 2008, extended an invitation to Gensler to join Rotary, and Haley, who died in September 2013, reached out to Gensler with an invitation to serve on the hospital foundation board.
“They just asked,” Gensler said. “That’s often the first step one needs to take to get people involved in service programs. People need to open the door. It’s a personal connection.”
As incoming president of Rotary Club of Coronado in July 2006, Gensler attended the international convention in Copenhagen, Denmark. When he heard the keynote address by a diminutive woman, simply known as Sister Ethel, another personal connection was made.
“This little Irish woman spoke to a crowd of 15,000 and she reached out and touched my heart,” Gensler said. “Through her Missionvale community in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, she has devoted her life to serving the poor and marginalized, and she works on the front line of disease, hunger and malnutrition, with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS.”
Gensler invited Sister Ethel to San Diego as a foundation speaker in 2008, and he has made three trips to Port Elizabeth, accompanied by other Coronado residents, to volunteer at the Missionvale complex, built on the outskirts of a salt marsh.
Dan and his wife of 26 years, Chris, are from Wisconsin and moved to Orange County in 1987. “In 1990 I attended a conference at the Hotel Del and when I had an opportunity to make a career move to San Diego in 1993, Chris and I knew we wanted to live in Coronado,” Gensler said. “It reminded us of our hometown in Wisconsin — in the month of June, that is! — a small community where we also lived by the water, on a lake, and were close to schools, parks and shops.”
The couple have two daughters, Lauren, a reporter with Forbes magazine who lives in New York, and Brooke, a student at Notre Dame.