Katherine (Kathy) Milam recently announced her decision to retire from her position as Executive Director of The Community Foundation of the Dan River Region, effective June 30, 2024. Kathy stated that serving in this role for the past five years has been a profound privilege, which offered her a unique perspective on philanthropy and complemented her previous extensive experience in grant writing.
In reviewing her years as Executive Director, Kathy takes pride in the achievements of The Foundation. During that time, the organization’s assets experienced substantial growth, increasing from $37.8 to $57.4 million. Annual grants and scholarships awarded rose from $1.3 to $1.7 million, and the number of funds managed by The Foundation increased from 151 to 183.
Kathy has accomplished much important work with The Foundation, most notably collaborating with donors to establish scholarships and endowed funds. Kathy stated, “Every new fund created represents a donor’s passion or values. Memorial funds, established for loved ones, pull at your heartstrings.” Noteworthy examples of new endowed funds include The Free Clinic of Danville Fund, dedicated to preserving The Free Clinic’s legacy and perpetuating its mission, and the Danville Historical Society Endowment Fund, supporting the preservation of the National Tobacco Textile Museum’s collections.
Kathy also played a key role in the establishment of the Unrestricted Community Fund, which was initially funded by a gift of $882,000 from an estate. This fund provides vital support for the Foundation’s annual Competitive Grant Cycle. The creation of a Coronavirus Relief Fund demonstrated the organization’s adaptability in responding to unforeseen challenges, rallying generous donors to provide urgent assistance to nonprofits affected by the pandemic. The board of directors subsequently established an Emergency Preparedness Fund with a long-range plan to have substantial funding immediately available for future crises.
The sale of the Faith Home property provided a significant boost to the Faith Home Fund, another unrestricted fund that supports grants throughout the community. Recently, the settlement of the Estate of Robert T. Marshall stands out as a blessing, marking the largest gift to The Foundation to date, thanks to Mr. Marshall’s generosity.
Kathy also applied for and received approval for two major three-year grants from the Danville Regional Foundation. The funds awarded are for regranting purposes during The Community Foundation’s annual Competitive Grant Cycle.
During Kathy’s tenure, The Foundation twice applied for and received reaccreditation approval from the National Standards for Community Foundations. This accreditation indicates that The Foundation meets the highest standards for philanthropic excellence.
Thanks to Kathy’s leadership, the staff’s active participation in the Virginia Funder’s Network and attendance at conferences such as the Annual National Conference for Growing Community Foundations has highlighted The Foundation’s dedication to continuous learning and collaboration.
Kathy stated that working for The Community Foundation requires not only a passion for the great work of nonprofit organizations and students in our region, but also the desire and drive to grow the funding available to help organizations and students thrive. She added that the work requires compassion as well as a high level of accountability, problem solving, and attention to detail. The Foundation’s continued development is guided by the vision and strategy outlined in the five-year Strategic Plan adopted by the board of directors in 2022.
Kathy ended by saying, “It is with much gratitude and respect for the team of staff and board members with whom I have worked closely during the past five years, that I joyfully turn the page to the next chapter of my life. Every day was a genuine pleasure, working and learning alongside such an intelligent and caring group of people.”