CFO Invites Community to Celebrate its 40th Anniversary

The CFO will celebrate its 40th anniversary at a community open house from 4-6 p.m., Thursday, June 13, at its offices at 425 E. Trafficway in downtown Springfield. A short program, including a proclamation from Mayor Bob Stephens, will take place about 5:15 p.m.

The program also will include recognition of the family members who are supporting the newly landscaped Fanny Baldwin Garden, adjacent to the CFO building, honoring the late “Posey” Baldwin, a dedicated urban gardener in the early 1900s. The CFO partners with the Springfield-Greene County Park Department to maintain the garden.

During 40 years as the region’s public charitable foundation, the CFO has returned nearly $150 million through grants and distributions, built a network to strengthen nonprofit agencies, regional affiliates and schools, provided leadership on community issues, and cultivated future generations through scholarships and youth philanthropy.

The Community Foundation of Greene County was founded on June 18, 1973 by a group of 11 men involved in the estate planning, legal, accounting and insurance professions. The late Mayor Jim Payne appointed the group to research starting a community foundation, a concept also encouraged by the late Anne Drummond, an insurance professional who later served on the Springfield City Council. Both Payne and Drummond were motivated by seeing the impact community foundations were having in other areas, particularly after learning that a large estate was left to a national organization that could have benefitted our own community if a public foundation had existed.

The mission of what is now the Community Foundation of the Ozarks is to enhance the region’s quality of life by developing charitable resources, making grants back to communities, and collaborating with other partners to provide community leadership on a range of issues. This is accomplished by managing and investing charitable assets to fulfill the intent of donors and nonprofit partners who establish funds at the CFO to benefit any eligible charitable purposes.

For its first 15 years, the Community Foundation was managed entirely through volunteer leadership. Jan Horton was hired as the first staff member in 1988, and later became the CFO’s first president. The second employee, Susanne Gray, continues to serve as the Chief Financial Officer today. The CFO is now governed by 2012-13 Chair Jill Reynolds and a 21-member volunteer board, and managed by President Brian Fogle and staff with offices in Springfield, West Plains and Joplin.

By 1992, the CFO reached $5 million in assets, which was considered the jumping-off point to assure long-term sustainability. In 1993, the first of the CFO’s current 44 affiliate community foundations was created in Nixa, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Today, the CFO holds about $226 million in charitable assets in more than 2,500 funds. In the latest Columbus Survey, the CFO was ranked 65th largest among more than 700 U.S. community foundations; it is the second largest in Missouri after the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. The CFO also ranks as the 9th busiest in the United States with more than 14,000 transactions in 2012.