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2013 In Review

As we come to the end of my first year at GDDF, this is a good moment to thank everyone who has helped welcome and orient me. My appreciation ranges across land conservation, arts and collections, as well as the larger philanthropic and non-profit communities in both the Chicago region and the South Carolina Lowcountry. As I reflect on 2013, here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been doing at GDDF to enhance our support to all of you working in these mission areas in the two geographies that remain our passion.

Mission Area Strategies

The core of our Land Conservation strategy continues to be the protection and stewardship of high-priority natural areas which contribute to landscape scale outcomes. The Foundation is focusing its grants and other efforts to further on-the-ground conservation efforts, land conservation partnerships, policy and advocacy in support of these, and capacity building opportunities for grantees. In Chicago, we are fortunate to have the Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure Vision Map as a regional conservation template. In the Lowcountry, we remain focused on the nine coastal counties and associated watersheds.

The core strategy for Artistic Vitality remains general operations support to a myriad of excellent organizations across all disciplines. We are also continuing capacity building efforts to help strengthen our grantees’ back office affairs, which, of course, underpin all artistic output. In the Chicago region, we are formalizing and expanding this critical second prong of our strategy by launching a new “plus” component in January. In the Lowcountry, we are gravitating toward a similar approach, especially in the Charleston region, which has a very similar per capita arts profile to Chicago.

Our Collections niche continues to be support for collections of regional significance to our two geographies. To assist in further definition of future strategies for preservation, increased public access and a range of curatorial approaches, we have decided to carve out Collections as a distinct mission area from Artistic Vitality.

Staff and Operations

As announced in November, we’ve hired two new staff – Ellen Placey Wadey and Clover Morell. Ellen is our new Chicago Program Officer, working primarily in the arts. Her impressive background is a great match for our enhanced strategy to support small arts organizations across the board. Clover, who also has a background in the arts, is our new Grants & Administrative Assistant, serving as our point person, supporting our grants management and much more.

Our new satellite office is now “open for business” in downtown Charleston. We are excited that having a physical presence for the first time in our 60 year history will increase convening opportunities and help inform our grant making and other mission area strategies. We’ve also completed several years of effort to go paperless. Decommissioning our filing room in Chicago frees up space for an additional informal gathering space.

Finally, we’ve taken a new look at communications, hoping to embed it even more into our program strategies and mission advocacy. We’re in the midst of updating the content of our website to reflect how we currently work, and you can look forward to enhanced efforts in 2014 to communicate with grantees and other partners.

Best wishes to all this holiday season!

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