My Turn: An update from the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation | SierraSun.com

My Turn: An update from the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation

Linda Brown
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation was born in 1998, with a generous founding gift of $1 million from William Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard. He gifted a second million dollars as a challenge grant, encouraging community members to join him in promoting philanthropy in our region. And it worked!

Today TTCF is a $20 million foundation, with hundreds of financial donors, that has awarded more than $10 million in grants over the years in the fields of Arts, Culture and Civic Life; Education and Youth Development; Health and Human Services; and Environment, Recreation and Animal Welfare. From the West Shore to Kings Beach, Donner Summit to Truckee, Squaw Valley to Northstar and Lahontan, positive changes are continually occurring because we exist.

Our role as catalyst is ongoing and growing, helping donors financially support their charitable interests and providing resources to nearly 250 local non-profits doing valuable on-the-ground work.

Our long-time CEO, Lisa Dobey, moved on, taking the helm of a health care foundation in Bend, Ore. TTCF is now working with a search firm identifying the leadership needs, skills and personality traits desired in our new CEO. Before conducting a nation-wide search, some of you may be asked to share your thoughts, helping articulate the new leadership role. I hope you will take the time to weigh in. The TTCF board is poised to take the foundation to a new level of leadership in and service to the community, and your input will help chart that course.

On July 1, 2011, we added four new board members, and already they have brought a fresh, new perspective that compliments the work under way by the existing board. We welcome Douglas Dale, Todd Huckins, Gail Stephens and Andy Wirth.

And, I’m a and#8220;new kid on the blockand#8221; as well. The board asked me to serve as interim CEO while they conduct and conclude the CEO search process. But I’m not new to TTCF. I was a founding board member, chairman of the board from 2000-2002, and board member for 11 years, so I have a deep commitment to the foundation and its work in the community. I’m also not new to the community. For some of you I was your high school teacher at Truckee High a few years back; for others I was a colleague when we founded the Excellence in Education Foundation in 1989.

TTCF is led by an outstanding staff. Phebe Bell, our program officer, communicates with donors, seeing that their philanthropic gifts are at work as directed, and coordinates with nonprofits through various grant cycles, insuring support for worthwhile programs. One undertaking worth mentioning is the Kings Beach and#8220;Shared Spacesand#8221; project. With the help of a Cowell Foundation grant and Phebe’s leadership, TTCF is exploring a better model and location for integrating the services of the Family Resource Center, Tahoe Safe Alliance, and Project MANA.

Ann Pridgen, our director of donor engagement, has engaged the board in a and#8220;New Funds Initiative,and#8221; focusing on relationships with existing and new donors and raising the bar on philanthropy by building new and#8220;Donor Fundsand#8221; and thereby increasing the foundation’s wealth and ability to better address the emerging needs and opportunities in our community.

Kristi Darzynkiewicz, our financial officer, oversees our foundation’s assets and works closely with the Investment Committee, the Audit Committee and our UBS Institutional Consulting firm. She has a keen, eagle eye and is excellent at oversight and maintaining transparency of our financial management practices. At the close of our fiscal year on June 30, 2011, our portfolio returns were up more than 22 percent.

Also there’s Ed Bokinskie, the friendly, knowledgeable face that greets you when you walk in our office door. He’s a key and#8220;go-toand#8221; person on all things that connect our foundation to the community.

Beginning in August, we will be writing a new weekly and#8220;Making a Differenceand#8221; column in the Wednesday Sierra Sun, on the page facing the weekly Notes About Literacy page. There you will learn in greater detail about the positive results that TTCF, local nonprofits and donors’ dollars are achieving together.

And, recently we opened our new office in Tahoe City, upstairs over Wolfdale’s. Staff rotates time in the office on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. When you see our and#8220;openand#8221; sign out, please stop in for a chat. We’d love to listen to your thoughts on building a healthier community through philanthropy. After all and#8230; that’s what TTCF is all about.

Linda Brown is interim CEO of Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation.