Learn about the Foundation’s Board

Learn about the Foundation’s Board

Learn about our Board!

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

A question I have received lately is, “How does someone become a board member of Barberton Community Foundation?”

In this space, I want to first clear up what the “job” of a board member is in the case of Barberton Community Foundation. 

What does a Barberton Community Foundation Board Member Do?

Every board position is 100% volunteer (meaning it is unpaid), requiring 3-5 hours a month. Some board members spend more time than that (officers and committee chairs put in extra time), but the majority devote 3-5 hours of month to meeting preparation, committee and board meetings, and various volunteer activities related to the Foundation’s charitable, mission-based work.

Board members have 2 primary duties. 

First, to act as a fiduciary for the organization. Fiduciary means “a person legally appointed and authorized to hold assets in trust for another person. The fiduciary manages the assets for the benefit of the other person, rather than for his or her own benefit.” In short, our board members are legally bound to make decisions for the “other person” or greater good – voting to approve and fund grants, scholarships, programs, etc. that do the most good for the most residents of Barberton. 

This responsibility applies to our ability to grow the Foundation’s endowment – our main fund – by making decisions that guide our ability to grow and reduce the many risks of losing money. The total net assets of our endowment fluctuate, but as of this writing are ~$91M. The team and our partner organizations provide some investment and finance training for our board members, but it is important that board members come into their position with an understanding of how to operate an organization, how to make budgets and manage them at a large scale, how to avoid financial risk, how to read a balance sheet and an income statement, how to evaluate a real estate transaction, and more. These accomplished professionals have been in leadership positions and have a track record of success in some or all of these areas.

The fiduciary responsibility applies in all aspects of the board’s work, including decisions like choosing new board members, making investment decisions, deciding grants to fund, approving scholarships (over $400k in scholarships in 2024!), etc. 

The second primary duty is to faithfully execute our vision – an improved quality of live for Barberton residents, now and forever – according to our governing documents, which include our Articles of Incorporation, our Code of Regulations, and our Policy Manual. 

This requires having an exhaustive knowledge of these documents, as well as skills and expertise related to the work at hand. It also requires making hard choices that will sometimes be unpopular. These hard-working volunteers must guide the Foundation to exist forever, while also investing as much of our money as possible in the community along the way.

It’s a constant tug of war between preserving the Foundation to be impactful forever and investing grant and scholarship dollars in the present.

If you’d like to learn more about our board members, who they are and what they do, or are interested in exploring board service, keep reading on how to join our board and the skillsets we’re looking for currently.

To read about each of our board members, visit our board page!

How Does a Board Member Become a Board Member? 

Like any Foundation, our board is split into multiple committees that have different areas of focus. For example, the Governance Committee reviews our policies and nominates future board members. There is a specific set of skills and expertise that is required to put together an effective and professional board. When a board member’s final term is nearly complete the Governance Committee will determine the skills and experience needed most by the next board member. 

The primary way to become a board member is to have the skills and experience the board needs, and express interest in serving on the board. Then go through the process of completing a board application, which is then reviewed by the Governance Committee (and may include an interview by the committee or members of the board), then is voted on by Governance, Executive Committee, then the full board.

For example, Jennifer Bidlingmyer – a bank vice president – recently fulfilled her term. Knowing her term was coming to an end, the Governance Committee identified that it was important to replace her banking, investment, and finance experience – essential to money management, accounting, finance, investment, and real estate transactions the board makes decisions on – with someone else who has those skills and experience. 

We were pleased to learn that Brad Angeloff – a Barberton resident and bank vice president with a focus in commercial real estate and economic development work – expressed interest in becoming a board member. Brad was nominated by our Governance Committee, his application was reviewed and approved by our Executive Committee, and then our full board reviewed and adopted Brad’s application for board. 

In the recent past the board has leveraged its Friends of the Foundation program – where “Friends” are approved by the Governance, Executive, and full board – to serve on a single committee, with a vote on that committee, for one, 3-year term. This situation is ideal for individuals who have the right skills and expertise, but either don’t have the time for full board commitment or have not served on a professional board before. As they contribute at the committee level, they may wish to pursue a full-board seat, provided their skills align with what the board is looking for.

The Friends of the Foundation is currently being evaluated to change it based on what the Foundation needs. That is a process the Governance Committee has undertaken, and will make a recommendation to the Executive Committee and the full board.

Overall, joining the Foundation board is a lengthy process where candidates require a lot of experience and a successful track record! But, like any job someone may get, the Foundation defines a description of what it is seeking then “hires” the right candidate based on experience.

All this effort to serve in a volunteer – unpaid – board position… just to use your skills and expertise to help improve our community! These individuals have built successful careers but choose to give away their knowledge and expertise for free as a board member.

From my perspective, board members of the Foundation deserve gratitude and appreciation for all they do, much of which goes unnoticed!

What is the Foundation Looking for Now?

The Foundation board currently has one opening, and the board is actively seeking a new skill set that historically we have not had, but strategically we need!

In general, the board is always seeking more expertise in Finance, Investments, Banking, Accounting, Economic Development and Community Development.

While anyone with those skills or executive leadership is someone the board would be interested in hearing from, specifically, the board is hopeful for a candidate with experience in Community Development.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Community Development profession, it is someone with experience and expertise at community revitalization projects like neighborhood improvement projects, adaptive reuse of vacant spaces or empty buildings, and more.

If you, or someone you know, has a successful track record of professional Community Development work, please contact me so we may explore if there is a good fit. 

Please keep asking questions, too!

 

In community,

Josh Gordon

Why Does the Foundation Do Economic Development?

Why Does the Foundation Do Economic Development?

Why Does the Foundation Do Economic Development?

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

In this continuing series on answering questions I get from community members about the Foundation I am finally able to address one of the most persistent questions I get – what is economic development, and why does the Foundation do it? 

Community foundations usually support local nonprofits to improve the lives of a community’s residents. That is certainly true of Barberton Community Foundation, only our mission extends support to the school district and City of Barberton, as well. All programs and initiatives we take on are designed to do the most positive for the most residents.  

The hard part is in answering this question: “Where should we focus?”  

Why? If you’re reading this, you know that our community is amazing! However, it isn’t perfect. (Yet!) 

There are questions we wrestle with in pursuit of doing the most positive for the most residents. Here are a few: 

How do we get more businesses to open and stay in Barberton? How can we help create more jobs, generating more income tax for the City? How can we make sure our neighborhoods are amazing for all residents? How can we make sure our graduates have opportunities for work and scholarships for college (if they are going)? How can we make sure every  child has a chance to go to preschool and get a head start on their academic life?  

These are just a few of the questions our highly accomplished – and 100% volunteer – board works on solutions for. 

Over the past decade, a consistent message from all board members in all strategic planning sessions is that we need more jobs and businesses in our community. Economic Development activities include work such as business retention programs, business attraction programs, land purchase, land development, land redevelopment, building purchase, building redevelopment, strategic planning, zoning, building public-private partnerships, and more. 

We are fortunate to have great partners in Mayor Judge and his office, Barberton’s Planning Commission, and more. But, the truth is, there is more work than all of us working together can accomplish. So we must divide and conquer, playing different, distinct roles so we can make progress.

3 Primary Ways the Foundation Helps with Economic Development  

#1 Helping Define an Economic Development Strategy  

One of my favorite quotes is “A problem well defined is a problem half-solved.” Charles Kettering – the head of research for General Motors from 1920 to 1947 said that.  

 It means that if we understand a problem completely – with data, opinion, thoughtful solution engineering, etc. – then we are better positioned to establish a permanent resolution.   

The Foundation helps to fund plans, works to create strategy, and learns what businesses need for support. Others in the community do as well. We compare notes and are working on establishing an “official” strategic plan for economic development that we can measure and show accomplishments from. Strategy must come first.  

#2 Convening Stakeholders 

That’s a pretty buzzword-filled subheading, huh? Essentially it means that when we need different organizations, officials, and experts to work together on a problem we are facing, they are usually willing to pick up the phone when the Foundation calls. We can convene them – get them in the same room – to discuss the challenges we are facing and help establish solutions. 

There are so many experts in specific areas – tax incentives, public-private partnerships, land acquisition, historic tax credits, commercial construction, commercial building redevelopment, etc. – that having all that knowledge in one person or entity just isn’t possible. It takes experts coming together around a problem to create progress. This is an area where the Foundation can really help.  

#3 Funding Solutions 

The Foundation provides grants and can make investments with our money. There are many, many rules for how we have to do that.  

We have more economic development needs and opportunities our community right now than we have funds. So, what can we do? 

We can fund targeted programs that help businesses. We fund programs that are executed in part by our wonderful partners at Barberton Community Development Corporation (BCDC).  

June 1 – June 30 business and building owners in Barberton can sign up for two amazing programs. Barberton Community Foundation is funding each at $100,000, with the goal of providing as many resources as possible to a business to help it grow and become more successful. It’s a reward for setting up shop in Barberton!  

The Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) is for established businesses that wish to expand their operation and must add jobs. They can apply for a grant through the Foundation, and approved concepts are passed along to BCDC for evaluation and “the green light” to begin.  

The Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program (DBRP) is for businesses in our downtown area that need grant money to improve their building or business. The money is only available for downtown businesses, because downtown is a very important part of the present and future success of our community.  

By backing economic development as a critical community initiative, and having an accomplished professional to help us run the programs such as our Director of Economic Development, Gil Gonzales, we are able to make progress on various economic development initiatives for our community.  

Focusing on developing Barberton’s economy – through the programs mentioned here and many more opportunities that are in motion (but early stage right now) – is a critical part of the Foundation’s work. We have a clear role to play, and we intend to play it well!  

Keep those questions coming! Economic Development is a vast and complex topic that will require more than this space to fully address. Look for more on this topic from the Foundation in the coming weeks and months!  

 

In Community,

Josh Gordon

Executive Director 

Barberton Community Foundation 

 

Eras, Barberton Community Foundation Edition

Eras, Barberton Community Foundation Edition

What does the Foundation have to do with a Children’s Book?

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

Another question I get a lot right now is about the Foundation’s endowment – our Main Fund, or the “tree” in The Giving Tree analogy I used in my last column. How big is it, how much can we spend (not as much as you think), etc.

I’m still new in my leadership role at the Foundation, so I love to hear these questions. I also love to research and work on how to answer them well. Part of my initial work overall is to analyze the Foundation, its history and future.

What I discovered is that understanding the Main Fund is the same as understanding the Foundation itself.

The best way to understand most things is to put numbers to them. Since the Main Fund is – by law – to last “in perpetuity,” a timeline seemed like a smart starting point. Rather than generate a timeline designed to capture the past and the unknown of “forever” I chose to focus on what’s happened so far, and what the next 2 stages of the Foundation are.

While still a young 27 years old, Barberton Community Foundation has experienced two clear “eras” so far – an era being a period of history with a particular feature or characteristic.  

Start Up Era

Like anything new, there is always a “start-up” era. The Foundation’s Start Up Era was 1996 – 1999. This era was defined by determining the first board of directors, trying to find a leader and staff, finding a building, and more. It is hard to start up any type of organization as there is a great deal to coordinate. Having been part of 2 start-up organizations, I can vouch for the long hours and grit needed to solve surprise challenges. In addition to typical start-up challenges, determining how to fulfill the initial promises of the Foundation (building a new high school, creating an Active Adult Center) were also mapped out in this era.

Spending Era

The next era in our timeline is the Spending Era, from 2000 (post-Start Up Era) to now, ending this year. The Spending Era is defined by literally paying for the promises that were made to create the Foundation – including the grand total of $58M for the new Barberton High School and $4.7M for the Active Adult Center. A small sample of some additional projects include Foundation Fields, the YMCA, the Barberton Sports Complex, over $2M in grants to Barberton Parks and Recreation, and more. Plus, the Foundation provides funding for a total of 36 scholarships now, most of which are multi-year awards. This is all work the Foundation has done, not even including the funds and scholarships that donors have set up to help with other Foundation-aligned, community-specific needs.

In total, the Foundation has 116 total funds currently and has granted $109M+ since the beginning – so far.

All of that is “part 1” of the Spending Era. Part 2 is about establishing stricter spending constraints.

You may be wondering “why would there be any constraints on spending?”

Because the tough truth is, while all of the spending was worthwhile, it was also very hard to accomplish. The Foundation is not a bottomless pit of money, forever! Though, I’m sure we’d all agree that would be nice. By law the Foundation must have an impact in Barberton “in perpetuity” – meaning, forever.

The result of the Spending Era is the Foundation maximized what was possible to spend on a variety of amazing projects – the tradeoff was not saving any money to build our Main Fund for big, future projects.

The consequence of the Spending Era is the Foundation must spend years building our main endowment back up. And until it is built up, the Board will face hard choices about which projects it is able to support in the community.

What does that mean for the future of the Foundation?

I envision two new eras on the horizon.

The second era is exciting – the Transformational Impact Era! What does that mean? It means this era will have the Foundation positioned to put as much as $7M into the community every single year! That amount of money to grant exclusively in Barberton means we can transform our community in big and exciting ways.

It means it is possible to take on large projects again, to transform what is possible with scholarships (imagine full tuition scholarships!), help the business community (through our partnerships) so businesses can easily expand and grow, support the incredible work of our school district in workforce development, attract more amazing businesses to town, and more. I’m personally excited for the day when these ideas can be the basis of strategic planning. 

To have that much money available to grant and invest in the community, our Main Fund would need to be around $250M. This is the price of becoming transformational.

As of Q1 2024, we are only at $94M. We can only spend a small percent of that.

Based on the numbers, it is clear that we aren’t ready for the Transformational Impact Era to begin. We need to prepare for it.

That means our next era is the Build Up Era. To be in a position to be transformational, we need to build our Main Fund up to the level required to do that job. There is still money to grant, scholarships to be handed out, and plenty of good to be done. We will deliver as much as we can.

We must also understand that the Build Up Era will be defined by doing as much as we can, which may not be as much as everyone hopes for. We may face some hard, unpopular choices.

The possible criticism is worthwhile to endure if transformational impact is possible on the other side. It will take discipline, grit, and creativity to ensure that the Foundation continues to make a difference in the lives of our residents now, and forever. It is a challenge. But our team, and our board, is ready.

Please keep these questions coming to me! Or tell me what transformational projects you’re excited about – I’m keeping a list. Email me at jgordon@barbertoncf.org.

In Community,  

Josh Gordon 

Executive Director 

Barberton Community Foundation 

What Does Barberton Community Foundation Have to Do with a Children’s Book?

What Does Barberton Community Foundation Have to Do with a Children’s Book?

What does the Foundation have to do with a Children’s Book?

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

Since starting my role as Executive Director in mid-January I have received a lot of excellent questions from people! Thank you, and please keep them coming! 

To boil down one common theme of questions into a single one is challenging, but my observation so far is that the most important question I’ve been asked is this: What – exactly – is a Foundation?  

I will explain the answer to that question by first sharing what a Foundation is not. A Foundation is not a bank.  

A bank holds money, lends money with interest (and requires it to be paid back), provides savings accounts, checking accounts, credit cards, small investment opportunities for small amounts of money, and more. A bank is for profit. That means all its activities are designed to make the bank more money. 

A Foundation is nonprofit. That means a Foundation is a charity, which may sound obvious to you. But being a charity means that a Foundation is bound by law (federal law, IRS, and Ohio law) to only grant money toward a defined – and legally approved – charitable purpose. That means all our activities (grants and scholarships) are designed to support the Barberton community. Our community is our cause.  

Barberton Community Foundation currently has 116 funds that our talented team is the caretaker of.  

The 116 number includes our “Principal Fund” or “Main Fund” or endowment. For ease of conversation, let’s call it the Main Fund.  

Our Main Fund is the original gift that funded the Foundation, $86M, plus the income earned from investment. The original money was invested over the past 27 years, and it is only a fraction of the proceeds from those investments that we are allowed to spend in grants and scholarships and operations. In other words, we cannot spend the $86M – only the proceeds from the investments of that $86M. 

The other 115 funds our team manages and takes care of are created by donors, people who have created their own fund with a specific charitable purpose for Barberton. These range from scholarships to funds that support food insecurity of our residents to education programs like Destination Imagination, and more.  

None of the 115 funds is even close to the size of our Main Fund.  

Imagine the Foundation as an orchard of apple trees. Orchards have trees of all different sizes. They all bear fruit!  

Our “orchard” at Barberton Community Foundation has one larger tree – our Main Fund – and many baby trees. The baby trees create a small but important amount of fruit to eat.  

The larger tree creates a lot more fruit. But the tree isn’t big enough yet to feed everyone!  

It is in this orchard analogy that I think it is easiest to understand what a Foundation is.  

Have you ever read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein?  

If not, please do. I know, I know… it’s a kid’s book. 

Here’s why you should read it. 

This book is a cautionary tale for how our Foundation’s Main Fund could be destroyed if we aren’t wise. 

In it, a boy (our community) discovers a large tree (the Main Fund). The tree just wants to help and support the boy. As the boy grows up, he asks different things of the tree. First, it’s to eat the fruit the tree makes. Then it’s to carve his initials into the tree with his girlfriend. Then he asks the tree for its branches to build something. Then the trunk. At the end, all that is left is a stump. The tree has given all it can, and it offers to be a stump to rest on for the boy, who is now an old man. 

It’s a sad tale when you think about how the tree could have given fruit forever, supporting the boy’s children and grandchildren.  

To bring our analogy back around to the Foundation and our Main Fund, we are required – by law – to only let people eat the fruit of the tree. We cannot give our branches or trunk.  

Giving fruit forever is not just our obligation, it is our duty and great responsibility!  

I hope this analogy is helpful. And check out The Giving Tree from the Barberton Public Library. It’s a great book. Once you’ve read it, I hope you will understand how important it is not just to protect our Main Fund “tree,” but to make this tree as BIG as it can possibly be.  

More on that next time.  

In Community,  

Josh Gordon 

Executive Director 

Barberton Community Foundation 

 

Eras, Barberton Community Foundation Edition

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!