Skip to main content
Community Foundation of Northern Nevada Logo

Community Foundation Marks 23rd Anniversary with Gratitude to Founders

Founding Board Member

It is a weekend of grand celebration for me as the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada celebrates our 23rd Anniversary!

So light the candles, gift some flowers, hold hands, get a hug, and cheer the people who 23 years ago, February 28, 1998, received the official stamp of approval from the IRS. Jim Webster, who moved to Reno in 1992, says that he realized that our region needed a community foundation after roaming around California making contacts for the Reno office of Gabelli Asset Management. He spoke with several professional advisors who told him about community foundations. He had been looking for a way to contribute to Reno and realized establishing a community foundation was it! Jim started the Gabelli office in August of 1994 and kept thinking about the community foundation model. He discussed the idea with Frankie Sue Del Papa in August of 1995. She thought it was a good idea but asked him to keep in mind that Northern Nevada is a very parochial place. What may work out in Reno might not appeal to Carson City and the cow counties. She suggested he "go for it", but warned him not to expect the other communities to buy-in.

Creating the Community Foundation was a team effort from the beginning.

Jim held the first official meeting of what he called the Community Foundation SWAT team on June 24, 1996. Brian Bowden of United Way and David Hess, the Lake Tahoe Community Trust Director, attended. Also attending was Mac King of Nevada Bell, Col. Bill and Hazel Van Allen, and Matt Woodhead. Although notes for these first meetings referred to it as the Truckee Meadows Community Foundation, at that time, people used the term "Western Nevada." They decided upon the name, The Community Foundation of Western Nevada (recently changed to The Community Foundation of Northern Nevada). During that time, Mark Knobel, Bob Armstrong, and David Turner stepped up to help lead. Others involved in these early meetings include Annette Casci, Sara Beth Brown, Steve Halley, Dyanne Hayes, and Jim Laughton. The Community Foundation was incorporated on September 16, 1996, by Jim Webster, Bob Armstrong, Mark Knobel, David Turner, and Hazel Van Allen. In 1997 Nancy Fennell, Ron Zurek, and Mary Ellen McMullen joined the Board, all representing non-profits, and the Founding Board was complete. There were a couple of back and forths with the IRS before receiving the IRS determination letter in early 1998.

The founding team worked to help capitalize the Community Foundation.

Thanks to early gifts, primarily from board members, the first director, Gracie Bartholet, was hired in October of 1998. Gracie chose the first logo, the Pinion Pine, tying to the indigenous Nevada tree's historical and nourishing aspect. During these early years, more people became involved at various levels, including Kathleen Gurney, Steve Teshara, and Paul Comcowich. Notably, Bruce James joined the board in February of 1999. In May of 1999, the community was introduced to the Community Foundation at a reception held at the Nevada Museum of Art. This first annual meeting featured guest speaker Peter Hero, President of the Community Foundation in San Jose. From the beginning, Jim Webster says his focus was to recruit a team, all rowing together, to move the boat forward quickly and then to get out of the way! He says he couldn't be more pleased with how well the concept has worked. Congratulations, Community Foundation of Northern Nevada!

If you'd like to hop in the boat with us to increase our speed and create an even more significant impact, please give me a call. The boat is now a ship, built with enough room for everyone. Together we can do so much more.  

Chris Askin, President/CEO 775-333-5499 or Connecting people who care with causes that matter