Trust in the Spotlight

It’s an exciting time at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, as our Healthy Places NC work and ongoing efforts to invest in communities in a thoughtful, sustainable way grows. Here are just a few of the recent and upcoming opportunities to share our work and celebrate our staff members.

Presentations and Speaking Engagements

Halifax County Residents Talk about Healthy Places NC: The Trust returned to the Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) conference this year to update attendees on our rural Healthy Places NC work. Last year we presented about the internal change necessary at the Trust to give program officers the tools to change the way they work with communities. This year Senior Program Officer Jehan Benton-Clark moderated a panel of Halifax County grantees to talk about how community members feel about Healthy Places NC, how they had to change the way they work to bridge divides and what’s next for their community.

Evaluating Healthy Places NC: In October, the Healthy Places NC team presented at the American Evaluators Association conference about the importance of creating a learning environment, internally and externally, to ensure place-based initiatives like Healthy Places NC offer staff and community members the tools to learn and the flexibility to adapt as the effort evolves. The group also discussed the importance of selecting evaluators who are a good fit for emergent work and able to adapt to this culture.

Healthy Places McDowell County: Similar to the SECF presentation, Senior Program Officer Abena Asante will moderate a panel at the 2015 North Carolina Network of Grantmakers conference with grantees from rural McDowell County about how the Healthy Places NC work took off if their community, why they got involved and what’s different about this initiative than others that came before.

NC’s Rural Health Action Plan on the National Stage: Earlier this year, with support from the Trust, North Carolina released its first Rural Health Action Plan, which clearly ties health improvement to specific education, economic development and built environment strategies. The state’s health leaders will use this as a road map to work with communities, funders, and public and private partners to come up with solutions to the challenges plaguing our rural communities. At the 2015 Grantmakers in Health conference, Vice President of Programs Allen Smart will moderate a panel with the people who crafted the Rural Health Action Plan to discuss its significance and the efforts underway to work closely with rural residents on long-term health improvement.

Ted Koppel and Karen McNeil-Miller to Tour Rural North Carolina: Former journalist and ABC news “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel and Trust President Karen McNeil-Miller will tour rural North Carolina next month and explore opportunities to help low-income people suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other breathing problems. The Dorney Koppel Family Charitable Foundation, led by Koppel and his wife Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, is interested in implementing best practices around COPD in rural North Carolina, which aligns with the Trust’s long-term commitment to rural communities.


The Foundation Review: The Trust’s work to develop and use a priority grid to assess grant proposals was recently published in The Foundation Review. Written by Director of Evaluation and Learning Lori Fuller, the article explores how the grid focused staff attention on each grant application’s potential for impact and resulted in increased quality and alignment with foundation strategy.

Trends and Best Practices in Food Distribution: The prevalence of household food insecurity in North Carolina increased from 14.8 percent in 2007-09 to 17 percent in 2010-12. The Trust and other local funders receive numerous proposals from Forsyth County organizations providing emergency food services. In an effort to better understand these requests and build momentum for a comprehensive approach to addressing hunger in our community, the Trust, the Winston-Salem Foundation and the United Way of Forsyth County convened a Community Hunger Response Conversation. The Trust also supported research to identify trends and best practices among other food banks in North Carolina and beyond. Read the report here.

Staff Honors

Karen McNeil-Miller Joins Campbell University, Higher Education Works and EducationNC Boards: President Karen McNeil-Miller has been appointed to the Campbell University Board of Trustees. She will join the board on January 1, 2015, and serve a four-year term. Karen also served as Campbell University’s 2014 commencement speaker where she told graduates to enjoy ‘their day’. “Come tomorrow, it’s not about you anymore,” said Karen to the crowd of 4,000. “All other days in your life should be about somebody else. They should be about you being in service to or in service for somebody else.”

Karen has also accepted invitations to serve on the boards of two organizations focused on improving our state’s public education. Higher Education Works is a bipartisan organization that advocates for investment in North Carolina’s public universities and community colleges. EducationNC, launching in January 2015, will research public education issues, share these stories and encourage engagement to ensure public schools can help children thrive.

Allen Smart Joins Philanthropy’s Senior Strategists to Discuss New Ways of Working: Vice President of Programs Allen Smart participated in an all-day session—convened by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations—with 12 senior strategy leaders from large foundations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Similar to the Trust, many of these foundations are working toward a high-impact vision, set by the organization’s president, and must navigate new ways of doing business. The group discussed how to align internal culture and practices to achieve long-term change in the communities we work to serve.

Jehan Benton-Clark Selected for ABFE Fellowship: Senior Program Officer Jehan Benton-Clark was selected for 2014-2015 ABFE “Connecting Leaders Fellowship.” The year-long program strengthens the leadership capacity of foundation staff, donors and trustees who are committed to helping Black communities through philanthropy.

Nora Ferrell Selected for Hull Fellows Program: Director of Communications Nora Ferrell was recently selected for the Hull Fellows Program, led by the Southeastern Council of Foundations. The Hull Fellows Program offers the South’s emerging leaders in philanthropy the chance to build connections with their peers, gain insights on philanthropic issues and learn from the sector’s leaders.