Community Found – How Executive Director Josh Gordon found his sense of Community in Barberton.

Community Found – How Executive Director Josh Gordon found his sense of Community in Barberton.

Community Found

New Leadership at Barberton Community Foundation

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

 

A close up photo of Josh Gordon in a gray suit.

Josh Gordon, Executive Director

It is an honor to write my first article as the new Executive Director of Barberton Community Foundation.  

For those of you who I have not yet connected with, let me share with you why I love being in Barberton.  

Born in Columbus, Ohio, I moved 13 times before finally moving to my adopted hometown, Barberton. I grew up as a “corporate gypsy,” traveling from community to community while my father was in pursuit of the next rung on the corporate ladder. I lived in communities outside Columbus, Chicago, Atlanta, Chicago (again), Charlotte, and more.  

I’m actually thankful for having moved so much now that I’m an adult. But my gratitude mindset would not be possible without having discovered how incredible  Barberton is over 20 years ago. 

Here’s why. 

Growing up, I didn’t know what a “community” was. I was moving every 1-3 years from the time I was born! I never felt the benefit of having a long-time group of friends, or living in the same neighborhood, or even having teachers who all knew me and my family. I never understood what a gift that is!  

Thanks to living in Barberton, and the amazing people in this community, I now have the perspective to appreciate how lucky I am to be in the Magic City.

Who are some of those amazing people?  

I could give a long list – but I’ll start with my neighbors. 

The neighbors on my left built a pool a few years ago and are kind enough to invite my family – including all 4 of my kids – over to swim whenever we want. How nice is that?  

My two neighbors across the street are also awesome. One is the teacher who has taught English language arts to two of my four kids (so far). Her husband is super smart, kind, and really good at disc golf. My other neighbor is a helpful man with a wonderful family… I often joke that he is “the man of the house” at my house because he can fix anything. He also teaches me a lot without even knowing it, like how to be a great neighbor by shoveling someone else’s driveway when they get busy with life. How kind and caring are these folks?  

On the other side is a family who has a daughter the same age as my youngest and they play together when it’s warm. Her parents are so kind when my daughter hangs out with them, giving her snacks. Why? Because they are loving people!  

During COVID, we talked a lot, (at a distance, of course!) as our lives weren’t as busy . Somehow keeping our distance in the world at that time managed to make us all closer as neighbors.  

I know if I ever need help or support, these folks would rally around me and my family.  

Plus, my in-laws live three blocks away. My family of six has eaten more of their food than is fair. But they welcome it. 

My best friends live six blocks away. Their backyard is our family’s oasis in the summer. Our kids are growing up together and are close friends, too.  

With all of my moves, I never once experienced the type of kindness and caring and connection that Barberton just “does” naturally.  

And all I had to do to “earn” everyone’s kindness and friendship was simply to live in Barberton!  

Here we root for each other. And we shrug off the doubters who make fun of our community,because we know how special it is. If only those doubters had the humility to come experience how great Barberton is.  

Again, I’ve moved 13 times. I’ve experienced a lot of communities and neighbors. The Barberton experiences I describe here are NOT common in the world. These neighbors, these friends, this magic – is rare. My experiences have taught me that Barberton is the exception, not the rule, as a community.  

In history class, my kids learned the “Magic City” got its name from its tremendous economic growth in the early 20th Century.  

But I know the real truth behind our nickname. The “Magic” in our city is the people and how much they care for and look out for one another.

How fortunate are we to be here?  

Barberton has another amazing gift – a Foundation that received an original gift of $86 million in 1996.  

In my new role as Executive Director of Barberton Community Foundation, I get to work with others to take care of this gift and grow it to make sure it is providing as many opportunities as possible for our residents. Those opportunities come in the form of supporting nonprofits that serve our community, our School District, our City government, and our business community.  

Our team and board will continue to work hard to create the most positive impact for the most people here. 

I have been described as someone who has “a lot of energy” and passion for Barberton. Why? Because I know how special it is. My job now is to work hard to help make it a place where everyone feels lucky enough to live, learn, work, play, visit, and experience the Magic City.  

And I will need your help.  

To start – I’d like to connect! I have heard people have questions about the Foundation, and I’m happy to answer them all. I’d love to meet you at our upcoming Meet and Greet event on March 8 from 4-6pm at Kave.  

If you ask a question I don’t yet have the answer to, I’ll find the answer and follow up with you. That’s what we do for each other here in Barberton!  

I look forward to meeting you, serving you, and building Barberton together!  

In community, 

Josh Gordon

 

Meet & Greet

Like what you read about Josh? The Foundation is hosting a Meet & Greet with Josh Gordon on Friday, March 8 from 4-6pm at Kave Coffee Bar. Join us!

Community Found – How Executive Director Josh Gordon found his sense of Community in Barberton.

Welcome from the Director

Welcome From the Director

 

A close up photo of Josh Gordon in a gray suit.

Josh Gordon, Executive Director

I write this having recently completed my first week serving as the Foundation’s Executive Director. This position comes with many responsibilities – and opportunities. Rather than listing them all for you, I’d like to publicly extend the commitment I’ve already made to our Board of Directors.

To the city, school district, nonprofit community of Barberton, fund holders, donors, grant partners, business community, and residents of Barberton: my door is open to you!

My experiences in business, government, and nonprofit leadership have taught me that trust is earned through transparency and a sincere willingness to listen and learn. I have always believed in being persistently curious and asking questions (without a fear of looking silly)! I encourage everyone to share their curiosities with me.

I am interested in learning what you’re curious about when it comes to the Foundation. What have you heard about us but would like to verify? What are you curious about, but never asked? What is your question about how the Foundation works? Ask away! Please email me at jgordon@barbertoncf.org. Or, if you see me around town at a Magics’ Basketball games, Kave getting a cup of coffee, leaving a movie at Lake 8, getting a bite to eat at Remarkable Diner – or anywhere – stop and say hi and tell me what you’d like to know. If I don’t have an answer on the spot, I’ll get one and follow up with you.

Something I learned about the Foundation in my first week as Executive Director is that I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many people who care deeply about building our community. The kindness and warmth of the team, the Board, the Friends of the Foundation group, officials from the City and school district, have all made me feel welcome and supported.

Their kindness is appreciated, as we have a lot of important work to do together.

This year will continue our focus in economic development, building on the work that has begun in that area. The Foundation has many projects either actively underway or under consideration right now.

We also have work to do in how we share what we do with the community. I believe that the more everyone understands about how the Foundation gets money, how we grow the money we have, and how we give it away to charitable organizations and important projects, the more impact our resources will have.

We are all about impact here at BCF. The question we ask ourselves is: What can we do to have the most positive impact for the most people in Barberton?

Whether you have questions or ideas, I’d love to hear them.

 

Sincerely,

Josh Gordon

Executive Director