Kimberly Sama has served as the Chief Finance and Operations Officer for UP Partnership since June 2022. Since joining the organization in 2018, she has also previously led the Youth Development team before transitioning into the role of Senior Director of Investment and Sustainability in Dec. 2020.
In her current role, Kim works with her team to develop internal systems that model the “transformation [UP Partnership] aspires to achieve within our community, particularly in regard to finance, human resources, operations and development,” she said.
As a continuous improvement leader and strategic thinker, she values “integrity, autonomy, imperfect action, social justice and growth.” It was the alignment of those values and the values and mission of UP Partnership that drew her to the work she does now.
In Kim’s own words, “It is incredible to wake up everyday and realize that I get to channel my energy into work that I truly believe in,” adding that her days “are filled with heart-driven, soul-infused work, in which I find meaning greater than myself.”
Before joining UP Partnership, Kim grew up as a “citizen of the world” living in the United States and Europe, as well as living and working in East and West Africa as a member of the Peace Corps., International Rescue Committee and Muso, a global health organization. While living internationally, she gave birth to her incredible kid in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and they lived in the Republic of Mali before they returned to San Antonio in 2014.
Kim earned her bachelor’s in French with a minor in social work at The University of Texas Austin and her master’s at St. Mary’s University. Out of work, Kim is currently reading Harvard Business Review and Economist magazines, The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor and Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown. She is currently watching Ted Lasso, Morning Show and Ms. Marvel, and enjoys listening to podcasts and various Spotify playlists.
When asked what advice she had to offer, Kim offered the following pieces of wisdom:
• Real transformation and change takes time.
• You are enough — the knowing is already within you, believe in yourself and lead from within.
• True change is rooted in seeing ourselves and others in the fullness of our complexities.
• And her son’s favorite quote from Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”
If Kim could be any dinosaur, she would be a pterodactyl “because then I could fly.”