Member Highlight: Troy Fountain
When Troy Fountain joined the staff of the Wiregrass Foundation as executive vice president in early 2020, a clear plan was in place: spend a year learning the ropes from outgoing president Barbara Alford, then take over for her in 2021.
That’s exactly what happened, but it doesn’t tell the full story, of course – the past year ended up testing Troy and the foundation in ways he could have never expected, but also in ways that allowed him to see leadership on display on a regular basis.
“Even though 2020 was a different year from many, the principles of leadership learned from Dr. Alford were timeless,” Troy said. “One example is that of learning to ask the right questions. Dr. Alford modeled this well and helped me understand that good strategy comes from good answers to the right questions.”
Troy is now putting what he’s learned to use, leading work on a number of projects, including a Transformation Through the Arts initiative that will be profiled in the upcoming issue of SECF’s Inspiration magazine. That work has seen the foundation serve as a convener, bringing together a diverse set of partners to boost the arts in and around Dothan, Alabama.
Troy said the foundation’s experience with Transformation Through the Arts offers lessons that can be useful to other foundations, no matter the community they serve or the subject area they focus on.
“Most of us live in very diverse communities and every voice needs to have the opportunity to be heard,” he said. “We have worked hard while working on Transformation Through the Arts to make sure that every part of our community is heard and or represented in meetings and planning events. People are more likely to buy into a project where they feel that their voice has been listened to and considered.”
Beyond Transformation Through the Arts, Troy is also excited about work that will seek to boost the capacity of nonprofits in southeastern Alabama’s Wiregrass region.
“CapCONNECT is a project initiated by the foundation that focuses on the organizational development of our local nonprofits,” he said. “By providing our local nonprofits with training and development that otherwise will not be available we not only help these organizations become stronger but also increase the impact of the funding that is provided to them.”
Troy is still relatively new to philanthropy, but he is no stranger to community leadership. Before joining the foundation, he served for 20 years as the founding pastor of a local church. Leading a congregation, he says, provided valuable lessons that have transferred to his new role.
“When you are a pastor, you are technically leading an organization. But in reality, you are leading people, and the same is true with the foundation,” he said. “While we work hard to meet with our nonprofits and serving their needs, it’s always important to realize that nonprofit organizations are made up of people and that they serve people. When we move away from the impact on people and focus just on the organization, we can lose our way.”