Heather Carroll not only works in the field of philanthropy, she lives it.
As the Joseph Henry Edmonson Foundation’s first full-time employee and executive director, Carroll dedicates her intellect, skills, leadership, time and moral energy to move the community forward.
Her role is to not only to serve as a good steward of the foundation’s resources but to build relationships and to get acquainted with the operations and missions of the city’s increasingly important nonprofit citizens.
“As ‘devolution’ occurs – the handing off of services by government to the nonprofit sector – society counts on us to handle more human services, cultural and educational work. As a result, nonprofits must learn to build capacity,” Carroll said.
And unlike the proverbial foundation executive who stays distant or detached from those requesting grants, Carroll believes in reaching out and remaining accessible.
She admits that the foundation can only fund half of the proposals it receives, but adds there are other ways to help, including “collaborative funding.”
Carroll tries to assist organizations, even if she has to turn down their requests. Many foundations, she notes, are willing to discuss strategic grant or program tips as well as open doors to other funders if they are unable to underwrite a program.
“My goal is to strengthen our community health services, childcare, eldercare, arts and culture as well as educational and recreational programs by building relationships,” she said. “Stakeholders can include nonprofit leaders and volunteers, the government and military as well as the private sector. We need to be aware of how much nonprofits contribute to our quality of life.
“Imagine if every hospital, school, human services program, and arts or sports activity that benefits from nonprofit funding took the same day off. The economic as well as social impact would be tremendous.”
Carroll has been the recipient of ongoing recognition for her vision and dedication, including an El Pomar Fellowship, a Colorado Education Policy Fellowship, Partners in Philanthropy recipient of the 2001 Outstanding Foundation Award, and the 2003 National Philanthropy Day in Colorado Finalist for Outstanding Professional in Philanthropy.
Her personal contributions include service on nonprofit boards, support for educational initiatives to promote giving, as well as on-going educational and enrichment programs.
Carroll serves as the president of the Colorado Association of Funders, a statewide consortium of foundation executives as well as on the boards of The Center for Nonprofit Excellence, the Colorado College Alumni Association Executive Committee and the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute class of 2002-03.
She also lends her talents to the Pikes Peak Community Foundation Education Committee and as a trustee for the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival – an organization she has supported since 1999.
“Ours is the oldest running women’s film festival in the country,” Carroll said, “and over the years it has evolved into a valued community educational resource.”
Education has been and continues to be a theme throughout Carroll’s significant career.
Prior to accepting her position as foundation executive director, the Colorado College graduate took a year to serve as a consultant to Partnership/Goals 2000, a Colorado Department of Education school reform initiative. The leadership training and public policy program proved valuable, Carroll said, providing valuable insight and data gathering tools for working with nonprofits.
Lynne Telford, executive director of The Center for Nonprofit Excellence nominated Carroll for Women of Influence.
“Heather brings so much information and intelligence to our board,” Telford said. “She is a phenomenal resource for the nonprofit sector and has given me great advice. What is so powerful is that I know she genuinely cares about this community.”
To that end, Carroll not only privately supports philanthropy through an annual gift to Community Venture Partners but also serves as the group’s co-chairman.
The organization, formed just three years ago by a handful of public-spirited young professionals, aims to “foster a vibrant and thriving community by empowering and inspiring leaders to effectively invest their time, expertise and money in nonprofit initiatives throughout the Pikes Peak region.”
Carroll has also been instrumental in the launch of a similar philanthropic investment venture, the first of its kind in the country, at Colorado College.
Carroll describes herself as an avid outdoorswoman and photographer. The daughter of a Salida rancher also admits hiking and environmental pursuits can be therapeutic.
“Brain work and job stress,” she said, “can always benefit from recreation.”