The vision of two men for helping their community was honored recently after more than two decades of effort.
At its board meeting in November, the Elk County Community Foundation’s board of directors recognized the efforts of the pair who first conceived of the organization, Bill Conrad and Jake Meyer, with emeritus status.
“These two have been most instrumental in forming the foundation and getting it to where it is today” Director Paula Fritz Eddy said. “Emeritus status just means they are always welcome to be involved in any way that they want.”
The move comes as new rules for the board would have forced the two off.
“Recently, we’ve gone to term limits,” Conrad noted. “We both termed off at the same time. I think we are the last two founding members to leave the board.”
A foundation press release on the honor cited the pair’s “visionary leadership in the growth of the foundation.”
According to the release, the genesis of the foundation lies in discussion between Conrad and Meyer of the possibility of starting such an organization based on the possibility of recruitment of philanthropists to support it and an abundance of requests for aid being submitted to the Stackpole Hall Foundation.
“We were the two that originally came up with the concept,” Conrad noted. “I’ve been a trustee since its beginning. It’s been a great experience.”
The pair recruited other community leaders to try to make their idea a reality. In 1999, with Richard Masson as chair, the group began its task.
“A steering committee was formed which included geographic representatives, influential leaders, legal and financial experts, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, and people who knew the community well,” according to the release.
Three committees were formed to enable a feasibility study for the organization. Meyer led a committee examining legal aspects of the group; Doug Dobson, who was on the Stackpole Hall board, oversaw a group looking at the feasibility of “creating a $5 million foundation within five to ten years; and Conrad led a committee dedicated to determining whether to affiliate with existing community foundations or include neighboring counties.
After initial examination of the feasibility, the release states a board of directors was selected and the foundation was established. Start up money was contributed by Stackpole Hall “to hire an executive director, rent an office and begin educating the community.”
Since then, the organization has continued to grow and is now making what Conrad said he feels is a “real impact in the area.”
“I’m proud to have played a small part in that,” he said. “It’s really been a good experience for me and, hopefully, the foundation will continue on for many, many years into the future.”