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Diane Abraham: Thank goodness for friends, and a generous community - September 25 2015

OSHKOSH, WI - Thank goodness for old friends, and new ones, too.

A few years ago when I returned to the Fox Valley after a leading hospital foundations in Arizona, it felt like a homecoming.

My family and old friends welcomed me with open arms, and so did the new friends I quickly found here in Oshkosh.

As I prepare to open a new chapter in my career in philanthropy, I will close this chapter leading the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation with pride and gratitude. I will leave my position as president and chief executive officer with confidence that this 87-year-old institution has a strong foundation and a clear path for continued growth into the future.

I've had the honor of being involved with many great initiatives during the past two years. Some of the projects the Foundation is cultivating address long-fought challenges like drug abuse and addiction, economic development and health care.

I'm especially proud of the public-philanthropic partnerships the Foundation has forged. Together, we have leveraged the work of our public entities with the Foundation's resources to improve the quality of life in our communities.

These partnerships have resulted in innovative programs that are changing the way we help low-income residents become self-sufficient and at-risk students position themselves for brighter futures. We have helped our law enforcement agencies provide a higher level of safety with the right equipment, training and tools. And we've given the community a place where people of all abilities can come together and play.

The Foundation could not make the impact that it does without the strong relationships we have built. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a prime example. The Foundation not only values UWO's co-investment on projects to improve our community, but has relied on its expertise to guide us in our own strategic planning.

The J. J. Keller Foundation and U.S. Venture not only have bolstered support for agencies that serve residents' basic needs, but they have helped the Foundation strengthen our local agencies' ability to be innovative and search for long-term solutions to our community's deep-rooted challenges.

The City of Oshkosh and Oshkosh Area School District administrations understand a team approach to solving problems. We appreciate their collaborative spirit, "can-do" attitude and being a voice at the table for so many important discussions.

I have made wonderful friends with and have great respect for our partners in philanthropy through Foundation's affiliates in the Women's Fund, Green Lake County and Winneconne, whose supporters possess such ambition and passion to serve.

I remember the first week after I arrived in Oshkosh, I took my grandson to the Menominee Park Zoo. Noah was overjoyed by the playful otters, Winnie and Minne, in the new exhibit funded by two of the Foundation's donors. As the otters splashed about and Noah giggled, I thought to myself, how wonderful that this community is full of extremely generous people like the donors who funded that exhibit. Thousands of people each year quietly, and humbly, give of themselves in time and resources to support our community, from education and scholarships, to arts and recreation, housing and basic needs.

For the past 87 years, the Foundation has provided stewardship of our generous donors' gifts, with leadership and a collaborative spirit, that have made our community an even better place to live.

There's an African proverb that reads: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Thank goodness for old friends, and the new ones, who are going the distance with me on this journey of giving.


Diane Abraham is the third president and chief executive officer of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. She has resigned her position, effective Oct. 9. The Board of Directors plans to name an interim leader while a search for a permanent successor is conducted.
 

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