Member Highlight: Sherrie Armstrong

Members who attend this year's CEO Forum are sure to get a warm welcome in Richmond -- several foundation leaders from the city are helping plan the event, including Sherrie Armstrong, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.

Richmond, Sherrie said, is in a period of transition and change that many other Southern cities can related to -- populations are increasing, and food, arts and culture are proliferating, but that brings with it concerns about housing, displacement and more that foundations in the area are working to address.

"Neighborhoods and areas of our city are developing bringing more people to the urban center. There is an energy and vibrancy that is ever present," she said. "While we are experiencing this growth community leaders including those from government, philanthropy, nonprofits, and the business sectors are working more together to address our challenges with a line of sight to creating a community where everyone has the opportunity to participate and benefit from the changes."

This work is reflected in the foundation's name -- note the "a" before "greater." The name is new, part of a rebranding that saw The Community Foundation Serving Richmond & Central Virginia redefine itself around its role as a changemaker.

The rebrand was tied to the foundation's 50th anniversary and strategic plan, Sherrie said.

"It was the right time, as our staff was growing and evolving. Our nonprofit partners were becoming more intentional and collaborative, which led them to need more from us. Our donors were more diverse in every way. And no surprise to anyone in our sector, the business of philanthropy has become more competitive and dynamic than ever before," she said. "We took the opportunity to reflect, listen to our stakeholders, and develop a brand platform that would allow us to share our new messaging and vision, simply and effectively."

The new name, logo and brand, Sherrie said, is a reflection of how the foundation was already seen in the community.

"Repeatedly, our stakeholders described us as a 'changemaker.' They see that we bring people together and that we focus our efforts on issues and initiatives that are most likely to bring about longstanding, sustainable change," she said. "As a result, we adopted a messaging strategy that centers around our ability to provide leadership, expertise and collaboration to three core audiences -- donors, nonprofits and the community. Together, we do more good."

Where is the foundation hoping to make change right now? Sherrie said after-school programs and affordable housing are two priorities.

"We are partnering with other funders, the mayor's office, the school system, and nonprofit providers to scale quality after school programming for children across the city. Not only is this effort centered on programs, but it is also focused on designing a system that is more cohesive, collaborative, and sustainable over time," she said. "We have also made significant investments in affordable housing and working in a cross sector regional collaborative to develop a long-term plan for our region."

Sherrie joined the foundation in July 2015. She previously spent 26 years in multiple roles at United Way, including 11 years as CEO of its Richmond office. She holds a bachelor's degree in public relations from West Virginia University.


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