9 years…that’s 468 weeks or 3,285 days. Any way you look at it, that’s a long time to serve any organization in a volunteer role. So with that in mind, we want to take the time to say thank you to Donna Larson for giving of her time, talent, and treasure these past 9 years, faithfully serving as a board member of the DeKalb County Community Foundation.
During her time on the board, Donna represented the city in which she lives in, the city of Sycamore. Her love for the people and community went well beyond her immediate neighborhood. As a counselor and teacher for more than 35 years, she committed many hours to being the voice of at-risk youth and their families. She also spent a great deal of time speaking with friends and neighbors on issues and concerns that were important to them. “I love to see people throughout the county working together to raise families and succeed in ways I never dreamed of,” said Donna. “As I look around and see the evidence and impact of grants from the Community Foundation, I’m proud to know I played a part.”
Donna served on a number of committees with the Community Foundation including Community Grants, Youth Engaged in Philanthropy (in its 1st year!), Governance, Marketing & Development, Executive, Advancing DeKalb County, Economic Development, Kindergarten Readiness, Community Initiatives, and Strategic Planning. Of all the committees she was a part of, the Grants Committee stood out as her favorite. “The Grants Committee is where the magic happens,” she said. “Making tough decisions and awarding money is not without its stresses, but is rewarding in so many ways. The management of donor dollars is top of mind and a lot of thought goes into each grant decision made. It’s an exciting and worthwhile challenge!”
In a recent interview, we asked Donna to talk through a few of her favorite memories and takeaways from her time on the Board. Donna responded “During my tenure, the growth in Community Foundation assets went from $18 million to more than $52 million this past year. This is a true testament to the caring and generous community we live in. We have a fantastic presence in the community now with the historic Depot building as a permanent home.”
“One of my favorite takeaways was helping to organize and launch Youth Engaged in Philanthropy (YEP). This year, the YEP program has about 80 high school youth participants…that is just amazing to see! I also celebrate the shift in thinking from just responding to “bricks and mortar” community requests to really diving in and thoughtfully exploring ways to build the capacity of groups in DeKalb County to move the needle on important issues. Kindergarten Readiness and Watershed Planning are good examples of this, but the creation of the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership (DCNP) is the real gold star to me. It’s exciting to see the strength and growth of our local nonprofits through DCNP.”
In a final question, we asked Donna if she had any advice to share with new and future Board members. She went on to say, “do your homework and build relationships with other Board members and groups in the community. And never forget that the hard-working people of DeKalb County have trusted you with their dollars and ask you to use them wisely.”
Thank you Donna Larson for giving of your time, talent, and treasure to DeKalb County through your service on the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation. You are a true philanthropist and for that, we are truly grateful!