Silicon Valley Rocks!: First question. What is your day job?
Renee Richardson: I am the associate director of the All Within My Hands Foundation, which is Metallica’s philanthropic foundation. We give to community colleges where we support workforce education in the trades, and we feed the hungry along tour stops that Metallica makes.
Silicon Valley Rocks!: Tell me a little bit about the All Within My Hands Foundation. How did it get started, and what is the mission?
Renee Richardson: For many years, Metallica has donated to charities on various stops during their tours. They mainly focused on food banks and were doing that on their own, under the radar. In 2017, they created a formal foundation to work with other organizations, so they up their game on a more professional level. They started by partnering with Feeding America. Working with the organization means that more food could get in the hands of people who are food insecure, and since they are all over the US we could continue to support the communities in places that the band tours.
Another area of focus is something that James (Hetfield) has been very passionate about; trade education. He saw his friend’s kids getting pushed into four-year colleges, bachelor degrees, or Ivy League schools, while perhaps they didn’t want to do that, maybe they wanted to work in a trade instead? His sense is that there are not enough opportunities or encouragement for young people to enter trade fields. The band decided to partner with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to help find schools with Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs and granted them the money and freedom to build the programs suited to each school. AWMH has given $1 million in total—$100,000 to 10 schools. Check out this link to learn more.
Silicon Valley Rocks!: What has been the impact of this philanthropic focus?
Renee Richardson: What has been really exciting about that is that the schools have been able to use our funding in ways they never expected. We have a school in Wichita where they partnered with a local manufacturer to develop a women’s welding program. Turns out that women are very adept at welding. So, we were able to support WSU-Tech to develop this Women in Manufacturing program. Year one is under our belt and has been very successful!
Silicon Valley Rocks!: How did you get into the music industry?
Renee Richardson: I’ve always had a passion for music. I tried to play every instrument under the sun. But as a young person, I was not focused or driven enough to practice. When I moved out to San Francisco from NY, my intention was to go into advertising. But I found radio, or radio found me.
I found myself on the air at Live 105, playing music and being mentored by people like Lisa Carr, Roland West, Big Rick, and Steve Masters- really all of the folks from Live 105 taught me what I know. Then I moved on to KFOG. They had a need for somebody new on the morning show. And I joined Dave Morey’s team (learning even more!!!) and it was there that I helped start the KFOG Local Scene CD.
San Francisco has had such a powerful music scene, especially in the 60s, 70s, and then when I moved here in the 90s, I mean, the music scene was just extraordinary. Radio gave me opportunities to promote musicians, whether they were budding rock stars or just hobbyists. I’ve always tried to use my platform to support that.
I still to this day have just a deep passion for music, whether playing music or listening to music. Being part of a band, or being a fan of a band, connects people no matter what their philosophies are.
Silicon Valley Rocks!: You left KFOG, and then where did you land?
Renee Richardson: I was already on the board of Blue Bear School of Music for a few years when Executive Director Steve Savage talked to me about getting into development. The timing was pretty great because when I got laid off from KFOG, I was like, well the universe just pointed me in the direction of working for Blue Bear! I was very intrigued because I love the school and the mission: teaching people to play the music they love.
Even though I am at All Within My Hands Foundation, I’m remain on the board of Blue Bear. Now I have experience on both sides of the coin: giving and fundraising.
Silicon Valley Rocks!: You’ve emceed at Silicon Valley Rocks for a few years now. What are some things you like about the event?
Renee Richardson: Oh, my God, it’s so rewarding to see people who have this creative outlet and this passion for music. To see the other side of them come to life on stage, no matter what they do in the office during the day. They thoughtfully pick the songs and sometimes get dressed in character.
These people totally bring energy and get their coworkers to come out to see this other side of them. I love to see that. It always helps it that much of the time they play songs that I know—that’s always fun.
Meet Renee and get tickets to Silicon Valley Rocks! here.
ABOUT RENEE RICHARDSON
Renée Richardson is best known for her on-air work at KFOG radio in SF. During her 17 year career in SF she helped to create the KFOG Local Scene music series. In 2016 an unexpected shift in the radio station’s direction left Renee wondering, what’s next? Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco- that’s what! After 3 years as Director of Development for the San Francisco Legacy Business Renee was offered the opportunity of a lifetime, to work with Metallica on helping to navigate their All Within My Hands Foundation. Today she serves on Blue Bear’s Board of Trustees, while also on the Board of Directors for Project Glimmer – we are for the girls! Renee is an experienced emcee. as well as a Missouri School of Auction trained auctioneer with 10 years of experience and countless “SOLD!” items under her belt. After a visit to a Backyard Concert at the Krush one summer Renee found herself jonesing for radio again, thankfully she has found kindred spirits at Wine Country Radio!