As many of you have heard, I have informed the ZSR Board of Trustees that I plan to retire in the first quarter of 2016. I have been working in North Carolina hard and steady for almost 40 years, and it is time to explore how I would like to spend the next phase of my life. I plan to continue to contribute, in ways yet to be determined, to moving North Carolina forward. I hope to find a different balance of the left brain, right brain and soulful parts of my life.
A lot has changed and continues to change in North Carolina. Its demographics, the economy, technology and media, generational attitudes, and the role of state government as a catalyst of progress are all very different than they were a decade ago. It’s time for the Foundation to do a strategic reassessment of how it should use its valuable resources to best help make life better for the people of North Carolina. This is a good time for the Foundation to have a new leader.
The Board of Trustees supports my decision. Board President Jock Tate has appointed an excellent search committee. The Trustees will select someone strong to lead the Foundation through changing times and in strategically reassessing the Foundation’s best pathways.
Some things, however, will not change. North Carolina will continue to need public schools that have the capacity to prepare each child to be successful in life. Communities will continue to need sound economic development and pathways out of poverty and into living wage jobs. Our communities will also need to be able to successfully integrate immigrant populations, people returning from prison, and North Carolina’s many newcomers. North Carolinians will continue to need clean water to drink and clean air to breathe. We will all continue to need a vibrant democracy that embraces and enables broad participation.
Only how the Foundation uses its assets best to enhance North Carolina’s future should be reassessed. The values of the Foundation and its commitment to all of North Carolina will remain steadfast.
It has been my great honor and privilege to spend the last nearly eight years working with you, the leaders of North Carolina, as well as ZSR’s trustees, staff, and grantees. I admire your values, your determination and your savvy. I am very fortunate to have been able to cap off this phase of my career working for a Foundation that has made such a big contribution to North Carolina over the decades. I am confident the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation will continue to play an important role in leading North Carolina into an equitable, just, sustainable and vital future.