One of those prescient decisions in 1993 was to create the first affiliate, but not create a separate one for Springfield. I think that decision has guided us that we are all one foundation … not urban versus rural, not southwest versus southeast, but together as one. We serve our entire region and reflect the diversity of people within it. In short, we are place-based, rooted in the southern half of Missouri. That has been a strength.
Thanks to our broad geography, we’ve also been well positioned over this past year to help lead a movement toward a more cohesive regional vision that draws on shared economic, cultural, recreational and other attributes — a model that proven successful in other areas of the country including nearby northwest Arkansas. In a parallel initiative, the CFO has supported development of a rural anchor organization to foster rural places by focusing on specific areas including broadband access, workforce development and housing. My experience working across such a large region has shown me, as we say in Missouri, that we will succeed by uniting for mutual benefit without sacrificing the special characteristics that define our places.
I have had the distinct privilege of being only the third president and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, following Jan and Dr. Gary Funk, who reached out to me back in 2007 with that crazy idea of me — a banker — to come over to CFO. As I’ve shared with him many times, I am grateful he saw something in me I didn’t see in myself. Although I loved being a banker, I have cherished my role at the CFO for these past 15 years. The success we’ve seen over that time has been the direct result of an incredibly talented and passionate staff, strong volunteer leadership in our boards and committees, generous and committed donors, and our nonprofit partners who do the direct work of enhancing the quality of life.
As we wrap up our 50th anniversary here for the CFO, I cannot help but fondly reflect on those many champions of our region that set the course for this journey. I also look toward the future with much hope and promise, and unlike 1993 will no longer ask: “Do you think we can ever…” What the CFO will do for the next half-century, and the century after that, will no doubt amaze those who reflect on that moment in time, too. Our time horizon is perpetuity, and as a colleague of mine once said, “that’s a long time.”
—Brian Fogle, Outgoing President & CEO
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