For all that he has accomplished thus
far, Sanford Livingston Jr. ’87 has obviously been seeing
what he believes for a very long time. In 1987, Sanford graduated
from Wesleyan with a BA in economics and went on to receive an MBA
in finance from the University of Southern California in 1995.
Shortly thereafter, he began his career with Wells Fargo Bank as an
assistant vice president in the Commercial Marketing and Strategic
Planning Group. In his current position as vice president, Sanford
and the teams that he manages work to promote and increase lending
opportunities to midsized businesses with an emphasis on minority,
women, and disabled ownership. In addition to his day job, Sanford
is co-founder of Ensemble, an affiliate of the Oakland/East Bay
Symphony that offers educational outreach and community services to
schools, businesses, and other organizations. His community
involvement also includes his current role as member of the boards
of both the San Francisco Maritime Association and the San Francisco
Historical Society and Museum.
Amidst all this, Sanford also finds time to remain connected with
his alma mater—or as he fondly refers to it, “the mother of my
intellect.” Sanford has served as co-chair of the Wesleyan Club of
the Bay Area, hosted several club events including Kwanzaa and a
Summer Send-Off, and represented Wesleyan on career panels. He
continues to attend events throughout the year both locally in San
Francisco and on campus, and he served most recently as an
alumni-elected trustee from 2000–2003.
When I was finally able to catch up with this very busy alumnus, I
had the chance to speak with him about his obvious dedication to his
alma mater and his community, and learn more about what motivates
him to volunteer in so many capacities.
Ciaran: How did you decide to be a candidate for the Board of
Sanford: Andy McGadney ’92 approached me and asked if I would
mind if he nominated me. He thought that I had some really good
ideas that could be put to use as a trustee and would bring a fresh
perspective to the board. I was really honored to be asked, so I
agreed to be a candidate. Who knew, I won.
C: Was the experience of being a trustee what you thought it would
S: The experience of being a trustee was even better than I
imagined. I got a chance to sit among some of the brightest, most
professional, most cheerful, most detailed set of people. The
members of the board really love Wesleyan, and they serve the board
in a capacity that goes
above and beyond the calling of a Wesleyan trustee. The board
spent a lot of time together being very passionate about not being a
school defined by rankings, but instead a school that defined itself
and the direction in which it would grow, a school that was
committed to excellence and delivering to its students the finest
education possible, a school committed to staying true to its alumni, students, parents, and friends.
C: Your commitment to Wesleyan is demonstrated by all the ways in
which you volunteer for the University. What motivates you to remain
S: I stay connected because I enjoyed my years at Wesleyan. I
loved being a part of the place—a place where I was surrounded by
people who loved to learn. I consider Wesleyan as much a part of me
as my family.
If you think about it, Wesleyan is a place like no other. It’s the
kind of place that pushes the envelope, sets very high standards for
itself, and then molds and shapes its students to not only meet
those standards, but often surpass them. It tries to prepare its
students for all of life’s various challenges.
Secondly, if you attended Wesleyan, it’s most likely where you met
some of the most incredible people: your best friend, your spouse .
. . the best and the brightest people you’ll probably ever know.
Since leaving Wesleyan, I have never been in an environment where
EVERYONE around me was of such high caliber. And as a trustee, one
aspect I truly enjoyed was that as a board, we were continually
striving to implement ways to maintain and safeguard the caliber of
our students and our high standards of excellence and intellect. Why
wouldn’t you want to stay connected to a place like that?
C: How do you decide which organizations to volunteer for?
S: Along the way there were many institutions and organizations
that helped to shape and mold me into the person that I am today.
Wesleyan, for example, taught me how to learn and how to really
think. The A Better Chance (ABC) program took me out of a high
school in Trenton, New Jersey, and sent me to Amherst High School in
Massachusetts, making it possible for me to attend a school like
Wesleyan. So when it comes to places and programs like those, there
is nothing to decide; I just know that I should give back in some
way and continue the path of opportunity.
I understand and
appreciate the power of opportunity. I benefited
from being around people who cared and who wanted to
extend opportunities to me. They took an interest in me, challenged
me, and molded and prepared me to take advantage of the
opportunities that I would be given. To do the same for other people
and to empower them by extending some of the opportunities that I
was given is less an obligation and more what I consider a mission,
so I try to align myself with institutions and organizations who
share that same kind of mission.
C: Earlier in our conversation you challenged the alumni of color
(AOC) community to see what they believe. Is there anything else
that you would like to say directly to the AOC?
S: I know that some of us may leave Wesleyan and want to
dwell on only bad circumstances, forgetting about all the great
experiences that we had. I believe that’s the wrong way to go about
life. The smarter thing for us to do as individuals is to rise above
negative circumstances. I don’t believe that our circumstances
should define who we are; rather, they should reveal the strength of
our character. Our life obstacles are about how we face up to them,
and shouldn’t be about dwelling on them.
C: What would you like to do next for Wesleyan?
S: I would like to continue being a resource for the club and
being available to Wesleyan whenever I’m needed. I would also love
to work on helping to bring
back our alumni of color weekend. I think it would present a great
opportunity for students of color and alumni of color to gather
together on neutral and fertile ground to network, reconnect with
one another, and reconnect with the University.
C: What words come to mind when you think of Wesleyan?
S: Excellence. Intellect. Lifelong friends.
In February, Sanford Livingston, Jr., intellectual, lifelong
friend, and man of excellence, was the recipient the 2003 Wells
Fargo Pioneer Award. This award is given annually to a Wells Fargo
employee who demonstrates outstanding community service actions and
is viewed as an up-and-coming future leader. Congratulations,
Sanford, on this well-deserved recognition!