Jenni Hamill, first Executive Director of Greater Pike Community Foundation, recently announced that she will be stepping aside as Executive Director to allow for new leadership to take the organization to its next “life stage.” She has been involved in the regional philanthropic organization’s evolution since her start in 2017.
Hamill says she plans to stay involved with the organization and focus on areas that really excite her, such as advancement and new fund development.
“Greater Pike has progressed – with rapid growth -- from its infancy stage to a new life stage where it can benefit from a leader with more time to take us to the next level. I am imagining someone with nonprofit leadership skills, positive energy, and an understanding of our community,” she said.
Under Hamill’s leadership, Greater Pike has undergone many organizational improvements, such as establishing the first virtual and then physical office space. Hamill is also responsible for initiating the Greater Pike Legacy Society, whose members provide long-term philanthropic support for local causes and charities through future bequests and estate gifts.
Behind the scenes, she set up an infrastructure for coordinating with the Board of Directors and fostered a growing staff capable of accomplishing an increasing number of initiatives that serve the community. She helped to jumpstart and formalize many processes and protocols that support Greater Pike’s grant and scholarship programs and fostered donor development. Finally, during her tenure, Hamill created greater name recognition and understanding of what the Foundation does for the community.
“Early on, when I introduced myself, I would often hear, ‘Greater Pike What?’ But it is getting easier to explain to someone what Greater Pike does and how it connects people in the community who want to help with charities and nonprofits that need help,” she explained. “It’s not just that people are hearing and reading about us. It’s a feeling that’s growing because we all see the philanthropy happening and reaching more and more people.”
Growing scholarships and grant awards are distributed annually, and Greater Pike made a significant response during COVID-19 in the community.
“After a few years of building our systems, when the pandemic hit, Greater Pike was poised to respond and we jumped right in. We gained a lot of traction in the community during COVID, not only because we were able to distribute more than $70,000 in COVID relief to local nonprofits, but because the community started to see us as a vehicle for charitable support and a force for good in our area. I felt then that our moment had arrived,” Hamill said.
“Greater Pike is now at a crossroads. We have the ability to help. We have the responsibility to help. We can affect change and do good,” Hamill added, noting that the Foundation has distributed more than $1.1 million since it’s beginnings 10 years ago.
When Hamill first became Executive Director, she was busy raising three children and working full time for the University of Michigan, managing medical research studies and clinical trials. “I agreed to do this on a very part-time basis, but since then, our great success has outpaced my available time,” she said. “I feel that my success has been due to solid partnerships and teamwork with a talented and committed board of directors, committed local government officials and a kind and generous community.”
Current Board Chair Gail Shuttleworth said the board is looking forward to continuing to work with Hamill, utilizing her institutional knowledge as well as supporting her in her vision for growth.
As for advice for her successor, Hamill says she hopes the new Executive Director will set goals, think big, and find ways to work with the community at all levels. “Community is more than belonging to something,” she said. “It’s doing something together that makes a difference.”
Hamill says she hopes the new Executive Director will set goals, think big, and find ways to work with the community at all levels.