January 7, 2007
By GINNY WRAY - Bulletin Staff Writer
TheÂ program director of a foundation in Flint, Mich., has been named the new head of The Harvest Foundation.
Richard E. Killingsworth will assume the executive director's job in Martinsville by March 1, according to Marshall W. Stowe, Harvest board chairman.
Killingsworth, 43, is the program director for the Ruth Mott Foundation in Flint, Mich., according to Stowe. The late Ruth Mott was the widow of C.S. Mott, a founder of General Motors. She died in 2000 and her foundation was created a year later.
It is an approximately $210 million foundation, he said, which is similar to the approximately $200 million in assets of The Harvest Foundation. Harvest was created in 2002 from proceeds of the sale of Memorial Health Systems. Killingsworth manages a grantmaking team that administers a portfolio of more than 200 grants. They focus on health promotion and disease prevention, beautification and placemaking, and arts and culture.
He is nationally recognized for his efforts in "placemaking," or creating communities that encourage healthy lifestyles, according to a Harvest release.
Killingsworth described that as an "ideal of how to create a place that speaks to everyone's needs, that nurtures and provides opportunities for people to grow."
That includes encouraging people to interact in neighborhoods, commerce in the uptown area and other things to make the community connected, he said.
"Many communities have become disconnected. They have recessed to their back yards," he added. Before joining the Mott Foundation, Killingsworth was the national director of Active Living by Design, which establishes innovative approaches to increase physical activity through community design, public policies and communications strategies, according to its Web site.
At the same time, Killingsworth served as an associate research professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in the School of Public Health.
He has consulted with or provided technical assistance to numerous federal agencies, national organizations, municipalities and elected officials to set up programs and activities to help people be healthier. He serves on several national boards, committees or initiatives, and has provided keynote addresses at national conferences.
He has done community building work nationally in more than 300 cities, and he wants to bring that experience to Martinsville and Henry County, according to a Harvest release.
"I want people to feel like they are involved and that they can influence things that happen in their community," he stated in the release. "I want to foster widespread community participation, enhance how people and organizations communicate and develop a process so everyone can best understand the needs and opportunities of this community.
"We will be very inclusive, very transparent and open to new ideas," he said of The Harvest Foundation. Killingsworth said Martinsville and Henry County is "such a wonderful place."
"My initial impression is nothing but positive. I see many opportunities for excellence that many communities don't have," he added.
For instance, he said uptown Martinsville has a "layout and design that speak to events and activities that can be done at a high level."
Killingsworth said the Harvest job is a logical career advancement from his No. 2 position at the Mott Foundation. He also was attracted to the local job because of "the type of impact the Harvest Foundation can have in that region."
Harvest began the search for a new director in February 2006 after its first director, Harry Cerino, resigned.
"I don't have an answer on why it took so long," Stowe said Friday. "We interviewed a number of candidates ... we were looking for the right fit."
No other candidates were offered the position, he said, adding that Killingsworth emerged as a candidate later in the process. Stowe would not release Killingsworth's salary.
"What we like is his sense of community ... He's extremely enthusiastic. He'd start tomorrow if he could," Stowe said. Also, "his Active Living by Design work, those are things we feel are very good fits. It's the type of emphasis we've already begun with Rails to Trails" and other initiatives.
Foundation search committee Chairman Don Hodges said the foundation worked with Boardwalk Consulting of Atlanta to find an executive director.
"Rich had done thorough research of our community. He read everything he could get his hands on. All he saw were positives. It was wonderful. He has a positive, can-do attitude and enthusiasm that was contagious," Hodges said. "I spent a day with him and his family and everywhere we went, he saw potential. It became evident very quickly that they want to be here and help make this community the best it can be.
" ... I think he is someone this community will enjoy working with. Finally, he's not afraid to roll up his sleeves and go to work," Hodges added.
Allyson Rothrock has been interim executive director of Harvest since Cerino left. The board "is indebted" to her, Stowe said.
"The valuable relationships she has developed and enjoys with community partners and grantees will continue to serve us well as we go forward," he added.
Rothrock, who will continue her work with the foundation, said she is thrilled to have Killingsworth join the organization.
"I believe the long wait has been worth it. We have found the right person to further the work of the foundation and take it to the next level," she said. "He has a vision that is amazing and is exactly what we need at this point in the life of the foundation and the community."
Killingsworth said that he will be moving to the area with his wife, Sarah, who is an elementary school teacher with 15 years of experience, and their 2-year-old son, Eric. His parents also live in the Southeast, which was another attraction of the Harvest position for him.
"I have been blessed with a lot of great opportunities and look forward to serving The Harvest Foundation. The community has a lot of wonderful people doing exciting things. For my family, it's a perfect fit. It will be great coming to a community that cherishes the same values as we do," he said. Becoming part of the community will be important to his family and will be necessary for him to accomplish his mission as Harvest executive director, according to Killingsworth.
"The first thing I want to do is become involved in the community. My wife and I will seek those opportunities out," he said.
Click HereÂ for the official press release (PDF format)
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