Palos Verdes Resident Erica Mangham’s Philanthropic Work Touches All Corners of the South Bay Community

Life of service.

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  • Written by
    Marlene Stang
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

Erica Mangham’s first foray into the world of philanthropy occurred, unexpectedly, when she was grounded as a teen. “The deal was that I could only go out during this particular grounding if it were to help people,” she says with a chuckle. 

She decided to volunteer to feed the homeless with a church group based near her home in Upland, and much to her surprise, she discovered a love for serving others. “Soon after that, I decided I wanted to help kids who needed a permanent home. I was adopted, and so I asked my fellow employees at the Stater Bros. where I worked to join me in baking cookies for kids in foster care.” 

In the decades that followed, Erica’s love for serving others grew. After earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal Poly Pomona, she devoted her professional life to the nonprofit sector. She’s held positions at Best Buddies International as their California state director; Lupus Research Alliance as the Western regional director of development; Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in the northeast region; and executive director for Variety–the Children’s Charity. 

While at Variety, she oversaw 44 offices in 13 counties and worked with each office to create or improve systems to help move the mission forward. Along the way, she also earned a certificate in nonprofit management from UCLA and a certificate in diversity and inclusion through Cornell University. 

Today Erica is a Rancho Palos Verdes resident who serves as executive director for Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a program of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California. Known affectionately as “Camp” by its community, this program provides year-round, free-of-charge recreational camp programming at a site in Mountain Center near Idyllwild to children with cancer and their families from across Southern California—including communities here in the South Bay. 

Erica is passionate when speaking about Camp—in no small part because she’s seen how the program heals places that conventional medical treatments can’t touch. She shares, “I want people to know what we do, the difference we make and that Camp is available to cancer-impacted families who need us.” 

Ask Erica how she found her way to the South Bay, and she’ll tell you it was thanks to her husband. “We met at Sharkeez in Hermosa,” she says with a laugh. Her husband was born and bred in Torrance and grew up surfing the local beaches. 

“I want people to know what we do, the difference we make and that Camp is available to cancer-impacted families who need us.”

They live in Rancho Palos Verdes with their three children, two dogs, one bunny and two lizards. Erica finds balance with her hobbies, which include reading, cooking, playing bunco and running bases on her co-ed softball team.

She shares that falling in love with her husband meant also falling in love with the South Bay—a process that involved discovering the community of need that exists right here. She’s been a longtime member of Sandpipers, the South Bay-based volunteer organization that leads initiatives such as an annual holiday basket drive for local families living in shelters. She now serves as president-elect for the Palos Verdes chapter of National Charity League and served on the board of Richstone Family Center and as a member of the Manhattan Beach Chamber.

Through it all, Erica has been an instrumental volunteer for numerous fundraising events including golf tournaments, galas, local “fun runs,” auctions, food and wine festivals, and charity home tours. It’s her love for helping others that keeps her going. 

Reflecting on her career in philanthropy and how she’s approached it, Erica shares that she’s been guided by the words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Fueled by this wisdom, Erica’s legacy of giving back to the community is still unfolding.