Kelly Thompson, Vice President of Grantmaking and Community Initiatives at Community Foundation of the Great River Bend (CFGRB), has been named a PLACES Fellow by The Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. She is one of 16 leaders from across the country to receive the fellowship.
As part of the fellowship, Thompson will participate in a year-long curriculum that will equip her with the tools, knowledge and network to enhance grantmaking decisions at CFGRB in ways that are responsive to the needs and assets of low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
"Over the past year in particular—and in part because of community initiatives like the Q2030 Regional Action Plan—I have noticed that more and more people in our region are ready to have a conversation about equity, and how critical it is to a thriving community," Thompson said. "I'm excited to learn from the fellows in this year's cohort, to share my experience working to make the Quad Cities more welcoming and inclusive, and to bring new ideas to our work at the Community Foundation."
"At the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, we are deeply committed to addressing issues of equity and inclusion in all of our work, from the grantmaking we do to the Q2030 Regional Action Plan that we have participated in shaping," said Sherry Ristau, President and CEO of CFGRB. "Kelly has played a critical leadership role in connecting people and nonprofits with opportunities to make our region a more welcoming, inclusive place in which all people have a chance to thrive—to be their best selves. We are so pleased that she has received this fellowship, and look forward to her continued contributions in the years ahead as we work to make the region cool, creative, connected and prosperous."
The Funders' Network ensures the values of inclusion and equity are reflected in the work they do. They do this, in part, by supporting leaders in philanthropy as they work to turn ideals into outcomes. Their mission is to inspire, strengthen and expand funding and philanthropic leadership that yields environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and economically prosperous regions and communities.
Thompson is a social worker by education, having earned a masters degree in social work from the University of Iowa and a bachelors degree in sociology from Augustana College. She views the work she does at CFGRB as community-level social work. "My code of ethics says that I must do everything I can to address injustices— to make sure our community offers all people the chance to flourish," Thompson added. "I am pleased to work for and with a place like CFGRB that places equity and justice as a priority in our work."
As Vice President of Grantmaking and Community Initiatives, Thompson oversees grantmaking, scholarships, and the Community Foundation's collaborations with others on issues that no one organization can address alone. She also manages CFGRB's youth philanthropy program, Teens for Tomorrow.
This year's fellowship drew a record number of applicants hoping to join the PLACES (Professionals Learning About Community, Equity and Smart Growth) program. The 2017 PLACES fellows represent some of the brightest lights in the philanthropic community, and reflect a deep diversity in experience, expertise and backgrounds. They come from organizations active in a variety of areas at the local, regional and national levels and are engaged in deeply important and impactful work.
The Funders' Network launched PLACES in 2008 as its first philanthropic leadership development initiative.