How does one fill the shoes of someone that has built an outstanding organization that positively impacted people and organizations across the Southeast for almost 20 years? Of course, the only answer to that question is that you don’t. You have to forget about filling someone else’s shoes and get your feet firmly planted in your own.
Gayle’s success in leading the MRBF team for nearly two decades has been outstanding. Fortunately, like many of you, I get to be a recipient of the great work those efforts produced. I cannot thank Gayle enough for her support, the wonderful Babcock Foundation team, and the excellent ongoing programmatic work I’ve inherited. I am excited to begin my service as Babcock’s new Executive Director during our 60th anniversary year as a Southern funder, a significant milestone.
MRBF’s work helping to move people and places out of poverty is a goal that directly aligns with my personal aspirations. I grew up in a community similar to those the Babcock Foundation serves, providing me with firsthand knowledge of both the challenges and possible triumphs Southern and Appalachian people face. I bring broad experience working on the front lines of affordable housing, workforce development, and community economic development to this new role. Experience that I hope will add to our collective successes in bettering the lives of low-income people.
Over the next year I plan to meet many of you, our grantee partners, to learn about your communities and aspirations. I am deeply interested in listening to what local communities across the South identify as important strategies. Likewise, I am interested in working with all of our colleagues and partners to leverage more investment in Southern places. As MRBF nears the end of its current 10-year plan, these visits will also provide me the opportunity to hear about how MRBF “shows up” as a funder- what we do well and what we might do better.
Despite the fact that change is a constant, rest assured that The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation’s mission and beliefs are steadfast. We look forward to continuing our partnership with you in this important work.
David A. Jackson
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