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By: Jennifer Rhoads, CFP

After nearly a decade of inspiring local philanthropy, I’ve decided it is time to make way for a new leader to guide the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington.

This was a very difficult decision to make. The work of this organization is pivotal and this community is my lifelong home. However, being a leader also means recognizing when to step aside. For the Community Foundation and our region, that time is now. We are in the midst of a strategic planning process that will outline a clear vision for our future. With this refined direction also comes the opportunity to tap a leader who is best suited to carry the work forward.

Our record of progress

Looking back, I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. We have granted more than $100 million, marked fivefold growth in our charitable assets and evolved into a more engaged and impactful community partner. Our team has grown, adding more remarkably talented individuals to the pursuit of our mission.

Together, this team revamped our discretionary grantmaking to alleviate the root causes of intergenerational poverty and, more recently, chose to invest in our region’s most disenfranchised communities with the launch of our Social Justice and Resiliency Fund. We mobilized community philanthropy like never before by creating Give More 24!—our region’s big day of online giving—and orchestrating the largest philanthropic response to an emergency in our history with the SW Washington COVID Response Fund.

Most importantly, the Community Foundation has affirmed its Commitment to Equity, which carries over into all of our work and the community. This means that our reputation for stewarding charitable dollars is stronger than ever because our efforts are more squarely focused on leveling the playing field for all southwest Washingtonians.

A promising horizon

This work has never been about one person. It is the work of an entire community. Every bit of our progress is possible because of efforts made by those who came before me, and I intend to continue that tradition of stewardship by seeing through a seamless transition.

Our Board of Directors has already initiated a thoughtful transition plan, which includes posting a position profile in early November. They have selected Murphy, Symonds & Stowell to lead this regional search in partnership with The 360 Group. Both have a track record of success in attracting extraordinary and diverse candidates to mission-driven organizations like ours.

Drawing on input from staff and community stakeholders, these firms will gather a pool of applicants for the Board of Directors to consider. As for myself, I will continue to proudly serve as President until a successor is in place, which is anticipated to happen before April 2022.

This decision does not mark a new path for us, but rather another important step in our journey as an organization. Fresh eyes and new energy are needed to tackle the next stages of our growth. Someone who can weave equity and engagement deeper into our work, while also leading with the integrity, humility and collaboration we value.

We are looking forward to welcoming this leader to the organization and keeping you informed along the way. You can always find recent updates about the process through our President Search page, and if you have additional questions, please email [email protected] for a prompt response.

Serving in this role has provided some of the most inspiring and affirming moments of my career. I’ll continue to cherish the relationships built, lessons learned and experiences shared no matter where my path leads. Rest assured, it won’t be far from here; so I will certainly see you around if I don’t see you soon.

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