Nina Stack | Executive director, The Champlin Foundation
1. You were appointed executive director in June of last year. How have you found your first seven months in the position? Rhode Island is such a special place and The Champlin Foundation has had an impact in every corner [of the state]. It has been a delight to meet with so many exceptional nonprofit leaders, each [of whom is] making such a difference in the lives of so many.
2. What did you expect your biggest challenges to be when you were first appointed and were those predictions correct? There seems to be a growing hunger – [from] both funders and nonprofits – to find ways of working together and leveraging assets. Collaboration isn’t easy. It takes patience and flexibility, but there are some successes.
[We were] proud to be part of the collaboration, spearheaded by the Rhode Island Foundation, to restore Roger Williams Park to its glory. Also, I recently visited South Street Landing where Rhode Island College and [the University of Rhode Island] have aligned on a nursing school.
Rhode Island’s size makes it possible to connect far more easily with others [in the nonprofit community and] I see lots of opportunity.
3. What are the biggest achievements for the foundation in your time as executive director? It is the achievements of our stellar grantees that need to be celebrated. This year, there are 160 different organizations The Champlin Foundation has supported. For instance, 134 Collaborative, in downtown Providence, is helping many of our most vulnerable residents [by providing various community services], [while] Newport Mental Health [in Middletown] is saving lives of those battling mental illness and addiction.
4. How do you hope to increase the foundation’s community outreach through diverse grant awarding? I do look forward to being out in the community a lot. That is where the important work is happening. Internally, we will be modernizing the grant process to some degree in the next few years through new technology. Most importantly … the foundation will not be changing its commitment to providing capital support.
5. What aspect about the foundation, or its work in Rhode Island, do you wish the public knew more about? Decades ago, George Champlin and his sisters [descendants of the S.B. Champlin Co. and ensuing Champlin Foundation] charged the future leaders of the foundation with fulfilling a very clear ideal: bring help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless. I’m grateful to be able to serve that vision.
Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, Gowdey-backus@PBN.com.