2011 has been a year of transition and transformation with a new president, a new VP, a new Secretary and a new Exec. Director and 6 new Board members. In other words new faces made up 25% of the Board elected in January 2011. With these new faces came different approaches and different emphases in the way the Foundation conducts its business. For instance, at the Board level there was greater insistence that grantees account for the details of how grant money was spent. Another example: the Board was increasingly reluctant to honor requests for partial funding of larger projects. Of course there are always some exceptions. The most notable during 2011 was the goggles for Mercy Flight. Incidentally, our $5000 grant won us special mention in the Democrat & Chronicle article reporting on the Mercy Flight project.
Another initiative 1n 2011 was the effort to create more of a presence for the Foundation in the eyes of the communities we serve. The Board responded in two ways: the sign which soon will catch the eye of every driver entering the intersection at Cleveland Ave. and Bethesda Drive; and the website which is developing slowly but surely.
Yes, there have been some changes, but for the most part the Foundation functioned during 2011 in the same manner as it did all those years when Duane Heinemann, who this year became a Director Emeritus, was doing the heavy lifting. The Foundation works effectively because of the Committee system, which is just the opposite for many organizations which struggle along with committees that are not productive. Our committees work so well because our chair persons are first rate and because committee members show up and participate enthusiastically. My thanks to all of you, and special thanks to Eric Weyand and Jim Nicoloff who this evening are stepping down as Chairs.
A not for profit charitable organization must have a competent, dedicated administration to be truly effective, and we are so fortunate that during 2011 our transition from Duane to Fred Marks worked so smoothly, without disruptions or other problems. I tip my hat to both of you. I might add that when Fred became Executive Director he had to deal with the hospitalization and eventual death of his father 120 miles away, so his first few months in the job were no bed of roses. But he rose to the challenge and today he acts and sounds just like Duane Heinemann! Let me also tip my hat to Linda Chace, our faithful secretary, for her important contributions in 2011.
It is time to say goodbye to 2011 and to look ahead to 2012. It seems to me that the primary challenge facing us this year is getting the biggest bang possible out of the limited funds we will have to underwrite our grants. I personally believe that, given our funding limitations, education grants provide the biggest, longest term bang we can offer for community health. But that is just my opinion, and it will be up to all Board members to wrestle with that challenge in the months ahead.
Let me close by thanking all of you for your support of the Bethesda Foundation.