The timing is perfect, Nancy Jones says, for her to hand over the reins of the North Texas Community Foundation to the woman she has spent the last few years grooming to take her place.
Jones and the foundation announced June 13 that she would retire at the end of the year, and the board of directors unanimously selected Executive Vice President Rose Bradshaw to succeed Jones.
“It’s such a perfect time for the Community Foundation because of Rose’s knowledge, her expertise and her strong reputation in the community, it just seemed natural,” Jones said.
It is “the privilege of a lifetime, thanks to the place where we live, the opportunity before us, and the people with whom we get to work,” Bradshaw said of her selection. “I’ve lived in major cities across the country and there’s no place like Fort Worth. The growth and development we’re experiencing as a region are off the charts. And that’s matched by the local commitment to making sure we’re all strong for the long haul.”
Jones is stepping down because she wants to spend more time with her husband, Ross, and her family, do more travelling and even find new ways to volunteer in Fort Worth.
Jones underwent bypass surgery last October after, as she said at the time, paying “attention to my very minimal symptoms.” She’s fully recovered now, and her health had nothing to do with her decision. If anything, the surgery gave her more energy, not an uncommon result of bypass operations.
“I was basically 95 percent blocked, so I really do have enhanced energy but I want to deploy that energy into doing a lot more traveling,” Jones said. “It gave me that recognition of how much I love the foundation, but how ready I was to pass it along.”
But health was not an issue in the decision, and Bradshaw can testify about the energy.
“I’ll never forget the day when a fund holder called to check on Nancy and offer our team support,” Bradshaw said. “When he learned about the extent of the blockage, he summed it up perfectly: ‘You mean to tell me Nancy’s heart has been running at 10 percent capacity? How in the world are we going to keep up with her when she’s back to 100 percent?’ I love to think about Nancy Jones charging into her third act on all cylinders – and all the good that will result for years to come.
Jones says the timing of her decision depended heavily on Bradshaw. “If Rose hadn’t been here, I probably wouldn’t be leaving,” Jones said. “But because I such utmost confidence in Rose, I just can’t wait to see what happens next.
The board encouraged her five years ago to begin planning for the future, and “we’ve been doing training for the last couple of years,” Jones said.
She cited a Harvard Business Review article on CEO replacement – if the organization is in trouble, go outside. But if the organization is on track, “go inside if you possibly can because they’ve got the culture, they have shown the motivation and energy and it just sends a message throughout the community that here’s an organization that not only is doing great stuff, but it’s planning for its own future,” Jones said.
The board went through an exercise to determine whether they wanted search nationally or regionally for a successor, Jones said. But the decision was to follow the existing succession plan.
“Rose’s leadership and knowledge of our organization and the community make her the best possible choice to continue to grow the impact of the foundation and its fund holders past and present,” Jones said. “She will be supported by the most capable community foundation staff members in the business.”
Bradshaw cites the statistics of Jones’ tenure at the foundation including “assembling the best community foundation staff in the business.”
“But here’s what’s impressed me the most,” she said. “Nancy is as smart as a whip, the best problem solver I’ve ever come across ¬– and she does it all with humility and a great sense of humor. Whether you’re in a foxhole or charging up the hill, Nancy’s the one you want by your side. She has been an incredible mentor to me and so many others in our community.”
Since 2009, when Jones joined the Community Foundation, assets have tripled from $90 million to more than $280 million. Last year was record-breaking, with $60 million received in contributions from individual and corporate donors and $30 million awarded in grants and scholarships.
“After 30 years in the philanthropy business, I’ve never been more confident about the difference we can make together, for this generation and all those that will follow,” Bradshaw said.
“I would like to thank the board, fund holders, professional advisors and the entire community for their unwavering support of the Community Foundation,” Jones said in a news release. “I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished together and I look forward to the Foundation’s increasing impact in the years ahead.”
Bradshaw currently oversees the Community Foundation’s philanthropic investments, maximizing the positive impact on North Texas communities while honoring donor intent. She is active in the community, serving on the Mayor’s Education Cabinet, the Women’s Policy Forum board of directors, the Asset Funders Network Steering Committee and Leadership ISD. She is a graduate of the Mundelein College for Women at Loyola University Chicago and has earned executive certification in finance and accounting from Texas Christian University.
“Nancy Jones has set a course that will carry the foundation into coming decades with larger assets and greater effectiveness,” board chair Jim DeMoss, retired founder of The DeMoss Co., said in the release.
The North Texas Community Foundation is a permanent collection of charitable funds supported by donors, and serves 11 counties in the North Texas region. Assets exceed $280 million, and more than $30 million in grants and scholarships were awarded by the Community Foundation in 2016 at the local, regional and national levels.