Member Highlight: Eric Kelly
When Eric Kelly became president of the Quantum Foundation five years ago, he quickly learned that SECF would be there to support him as he settled into his new role.
"I had been in philanthropy for 15 years and had served in executive-level leadership, but this was a new leadership role for me. One of the very first calls that I received was from Janine Lee," Eric said. "That year I attended the CEO Forum and had a chance to experience SECF at a closer level- It was amazing!"
Those initial experiences set Eric on the path to being engaged with SECF events and programs year after year. Now, he'll get to play an even larger role in the organization as a member of the Board of Trustees. He said he felt "both ecstatic and completely humble" when asked to serve.
"It was such an honor to be asked to join the board," he said. "Every event I attend is so helpful to me and to our team. I would comment to myself, 'it would nice to serve on the board of SECF when I grow up.' I wanted to serve in a capacity that would give me a chance to offer leadership and service to the foundations in our region."
Like many new Board members, Eric plans to spend his first few months learning more about SECF and the region it serves.
"My primary goal for the first year is to learn as much as I can from the Board members who have been here as well as from Janine and the team at SECF," he said. "I would like to visit areas of SECF region that I have not had a chance to visit to date. By the end of the first year I would like to have a clear assessment of where my skills and competency can be best used on the Board."
Eric brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to the Board. As a child, he and his two sisters lived in poverty, raised by their mother in public housing. Seeing the impact of economic depravity firsthand instilled in him a passion for helping others. He has worked in state government and for several nonprofit foundations - positions that put him on the front lines in the fight to improve people's lives.
"I have been the beneficiary of other people's generosity growing up as a kid in the housing projects of a rural town in the South," Eric said. "There is a perspective that our experiences bring to the philanthropic conversation. I am not unique in this, but my perspective is always 'the people first' and then the business of philanthropy."
Eric brings this same perspective to his work at the Quantum Foundation, a health legacy foundation based in West Palm Beach, Florida. One initiative he's particularly proud of is the foundation's involvement in a partnership to bring responsible community development to a neighborhood in West Palm Beach that has been selected as a Purpose Built Communities network member.
"Our goal is to improve the overall quality of life for the people living in this neighborhood and revitalize the community without displacing the current residents," Eric said. "As a health legacy foundation, like many of our colleagues in the South, we recognize the need to address these critical social determinants that impact health. They must be addressed in a coordinated and systematic effort, which makes Purpose Built Communities a perfect partner."
Along with his work at the foundation, Eric has served as chairman of the Healthy Start Coalition of Palm Beach County and currently serves on the board and executive committee of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County. He also volunteers as a mentor for young men in the Palm Beach County school district.