I am thrilled to join the Adams County community as the new President and CEO of the Adams County Community Foundation. I am honored to follow in the footsteps of Barbara Ernico and all that she, along with the board of directors, donors, staff and volunteers, accomplished to build a strong foundation under this community’s foundation. I am a long-time resident of South Central Pennsylvania and a veteran of nonprofits and philanthropic advising. I began my career in banking, but for the past 20 years I have been privileged to be a part of community foundations in Silicon Valley, CA; Princeton, NJ; and most recently, Baltimore, MD.
Here at the Adams County Community Foundation, we offer all people who care about this place a simple and efficient way to create a lasting remembrance of their lives, values, and commitment. Anyone can give to or create a permanent charitable fund, such as the Fund for Adams County, to support the community broadly, a particular area of interest such as education, the arts, or historic preservation, or a specific nonprofit. Our charitable funds are professionally invested for long-term growth and each year a portion of each fund is granted to support that fund’s original charitable intent.
I love community foundations, and here’s why: community foundations are simple, yet powerful nonprofit organizations that can accomplish amazing things. They can be strategic grant makers, they can focus on moving key initiatives for the public good and, some would argue most importantly, they can advocate for the long-term health and success of their community. They are a unique reflection of the values and commitment of a local donor community.
I will address key initiatives and advocacy in future columns. To be a strategic grant maker, we need to consistently assess local need and develop a vision for addressing that need. That means standing shoulder to shoulder with the groups and organizations that are helping people in our community to understand their approach to solving community need. We ask tough questions through a formal proposal process. We visit nonprofits to see what they do first hand and we think strategically and critically about how to invest the charitable funds entrusted to us. Our donors demand we uphold our organization’s values of accountability, transparency, confidentiality, compassion and inclusiveness in all we do and we expect the same from the organizations we support.
Being strategic means we also look at how our grantmaking can strengthen both our community and the nonprofits that support and strengthen us. We look for ways to leverage our charitable investments and how our grants can attract new capital from within and outside Adams County.
Over one hundred years ago when the first community foundations were created, their founders had no idea what their communities would face in the future, but they did know that creating a permanent civic endowment, built with gifts from individuals spanning generations, would give future residents the ability to respond to critical needs and unique opportunities.
Here in Adams County, the community foundation we know today is just ten years old. We understand that working with donors to help them create a charitable legacy is an honor and a privilege. And each time we do, we are building that permanent civic endowment for good, for Adams County, for ever!