By: Ryan Randall
There are many philanthropic works that take place throughout Brevard County on a daily basis. However, Brevard also has a hidden gem that connects donors with nonprofits, and nonprofits with each other. Since 1981, the Community Foundation for Brevard has assisted individuals, families and organizations in their quest to better Brevard County, and recently the company took another step forward in that process.
July 11, 2017, the organization named Theresa Grimison as president and CEO. Grimison succeeds Sandi Scannelli, who worked from 2010 through 2016 and retired Navy Capt. Robert Watts, who was interim CEO. Grimison has been with the foundation since 2015 and has provided strategic guidance and support in philanthropic services and programs, including the Brevard Veterans
For Grimison, community foundations have always been on her radar. She noted the foundations’ appeal in being a catalyst to drive important issues forward. Prior to working for the Community Foundation, Grimison was the senior director of international development and operations at the Brookings Institution, the top-ranked think tank in the world. Grimison has also held executive roles at First Book, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Working in different sectors, such as arts, education and public policy, Grimison brings a broad perspective and deep experience to the Community Foundation
“This is a great combination because we get to work with groups and people across the spectrum. Some people are interested in dance or the arts and are bringing it to children who may not have those experiences,” Grimison said. “There are others giving families a hand up or feeding people on a daily basis that otherwise wouldn’t have been fed. It touches my heart in every little spot. There are so many ways everyone can give, be involved and strengthen Brevard for generations to come.”
Colleagues in her field have inspired Grimison. While in New Mexico early in her career, she learned from Billie Blair, then the Santa Fe Community Foundation’s president and CEO, and saw the ways in which she brought people together to foster a healthy, vibrant community. It was then that she first realized the power of community foundations and their potential. When Grimison started working for the Community Foundation for Brevard, she was inspired by its Board of Directors and Scannelli, and their commitment to our community. The area also serves as motivation for Grimison. Moving around every few years as a child in the military, Grimison never really had a hometown. While working in Washington, D.C., she and her husband, Matt, had the goal of moving to Brevard, where he went to high school and his extended family has resided since 1955. The family moved back in 2014, and Grimison has felt the connection to the area since.
“This is home for me now; it’s going to be home for me forever, and to be able to work for an organization that is building a foundation for the health of our community and the good of our generations that are coming behind us, I can’t imagine a better opportunity or a more meaningful goal,” she said.
“There are others giving families a hand up or feeding people on a daily basis that otherwise wouldn’t have been fed. It touches my heart in every little spot. There are so many ways everyone can give, be involved and strengthen Brevard for generations to come.” – Theresa Grimison
Expanding Their Reach
There is a lot more to philanthropic work than just writing a check to an organization. The Foundation has a proven expertise, an investment committee, and a wide variety of giving options that can maximize the philanthropic goals of donors. Through education, consulting and partnerships with the professional advisor community, the foundation looks to maximize the charitable efforts of families and organizations. For Grimison and Grants and Program Manager Lisa Davidson, the goal is to move from the “transactional to the transformational” to ensure that every gift a donor makes is not only the right gift at the right time, but also personal, meaningful and impactful.
“We manage a fund specifically for medical research, cause and cure,” Davidson said. “Annually, through a competitive grant process researchers can apply for grant funding for research that is going on right here in Brevard. A lot of people don’t realize that Alzheimer’s, cancer and other pervasive disease research is going on at Florida Tech. We’ve also granted to the Preeclampsia Foundation, which has their headquarters here.” Additionally, the foundation supported over 30 local nonprofits through their 2017 competitive grant process.
The list of donors’ charitable interests is a long and varied one. From health and wellness, STEM education, the environment and animal welfare, the foundation works with clients on many topics. The Foundation also helps clients to plan now for a gift later by including the Foundation in their will or estate plan.
Going forward, the organization looks to continue to develop their programs and mission-related investing. However, they first want to grow their reach to individuals and organizations looking to create a philanthropic legacy now or in the future. Davidson said a misconception some have about the foundation is that you have to be wealthy to be a part of it, which is not the case. Whether an aspiring new donor, a seasoned philanthropist, or wondering how to amplify your effectiveness in giving, the Foundation can help develop a strategy. As the Foundation grows and appoints a new president and CEO, it looks to expand and make the community aware of the abilities it possesses assisting donors in their quest to better Brevard County now and in the future.