Reflecting on the first year

It was on a perfect summer evening one year ago when I sat on the banks of the Mississippi River, surrounded by thousands of people, and listened to the sweet sounds of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra during their Riverfront Pops Concert.

It was my first weekend in the Quad Cities as the new President and CEO of the Quad Cities Community Foundation, and I was struck not only by the beauty of the night, but by the atmosphere of community—of people from all across our region coming together to participate in a common, shared experience. The energy was palpable.

In much of the same way that the Mississippi draws this region together in work, life and community, my role at the Community Foundation is to help draw this region together in a genuine way that builds, lifts and bands people together to make this a great place to live.

The best part of my first year here at the Community Foundation has had everything to do with community. I was overwhelmed by the gracious welcome and support by the board, the staff, business leaders and community leaders. This first year was fast-paced, the introductions many, the learning curve admittedly steep. I continue to be amazed and in awe of this region’s generosity, by not only people who are giving of their time, but their commitment to make sure I have the resources to do my job well and be successful.

I admit it—it was not easy to leave Minnesota, where I most recently served as President of the Southwest Initiative Foundation in Hutchinson, a town along the South Fork of the Crow River. It is a region where my family still lives. It was home to me.

But I was able to leave because I deeply believe in the mission and potential of the Quad Cities Community Foundation. And, I have to say, this new community, one that was foreign to me just one year ago, is today a place where I call home.

My mission here is simple, and yet complex. The Community Foundation is privileged to be part of a larger picture, where leaders from the Quad Cities and our surrounding region have come together to cooperate, encourage and strategically build a regional vision. My goal, as we move forward into the next 50 years as a staple in this community, is to look toward the future in cooperation with our fellow community leaders and partners.

Instead of just asking what our vision is or should be, we must also ask ourselves what rolewe play as a leader based in the Quad Cities, with a reach that in many ways extends to every corner of our two-state region, and even nationally. We will continue the hard work that we have been doing, but we will now be part of a greater Quad City vision. It’s a future I am very excited about.

The last 12 months have been pivotal for us. Our good reality is this: the Community Foundation is growing. Some have even predicted that our assets could double during the next 10 years. That means the time to raise the bar is here and now—to ensure that we have a “championship team” and the policies and procedures in place today so that we can always be the very best at honoring our donors’ philanthropic intentions today, tomorrow and always.

As I step foot into the Community Foundation every morning, I ask myself: What are we doing now to make sure this great community on the river’s bend is cool, creative, connected and prosperous not just now, but 10, 20 and 50 years down stream?

As we look ahead, I hope you will join us in tackling the challenging issues and embracing the big opportunities of our community with the same unity, passion and heart I saw my first weekend on the lawn alongside the Mighty Mississippi.

The reason is simple. Our community is relying on us.