Retired Board Members Reflect on Service, Community Foundation
Miller, Walden Take Time Out from Florida Retirement to Look Back
New Britain, Conn., March 15, 2017 – Retirement typically affords one the opportunity to look back at the past in a new light, one not so occupied with businesses to operate, meetings to make, quotas to reach or deadlines to make. And it often provides for insight and perspective worth hearing and pulling up a chair for.
Former Community Foundation of Greater New Britain (CFGNB) board members Jack Miller and Trish Walden, now both enjoying retirement after their departures last fall from CFGNB and their Connecticut day jobs – Miller as president of Central Connecticut State University, Walden as executive vice president of Central Connecticut Senior Health Services – are in just such a position. Now both living in Florida, each looks back at their service to the Central Connecticut community – and to the Community Foundation – with fondness and an appreciation for the important role the Foundation plays in the communities it serves.
Miller now resides with his wife Barbara in Belleair, Florida following a long career in academia, including seven and a half years at the helm of CCSU. Walden, meanwhile, is enjoying life about 20 minutes north in Dunedin with her husband, George Gorecki, following more than two decades in health care administration.
Each has great respect for the Community Foundation.
“When you are in a community like New Britain where the needs can be particularly acute, the existence of an organization such as the Community Foundation is that much more important,” says Miller. “The Community Foundation took on those challenges. The Foundation’s choice, for example, to focus on an issue such as early childhood education, I think, was very strategic. They said, ‘Maybe we can’t fix every problem, but perhaps we can fix this one.’ And they’ve been very successful.
“I would say that serving on the board of the Foundation provided more to me than I provided to the Foundation,” he added. “I was still a relative newcomer to Connecticut when I joined, and I learned an awful lot about our community through that relationship. It was a very important learning experience for me.”
Walden has similar feelings about the role of the Foundation.
“When I joined the Community Foundation I was seeking an opportunity to give back and to pay forward some of what I had received and learned during my healthcare career,” Walden says. “I also recognized that it’s critically important to have philanthropy within a community to be able to do those things that state and local governments perhaps can’t do. The Community Foundation fulfills that role.”
Walden, who was a teacher early in her career, cited the Foundation’s First Years First early childhood development initiative as a prime example of how the Foundation can effect change.
“I saw even way back in the mid-to-late 70s how tremendous the need was, and how many of these young people just didn’t stand a chance. Working with the Community Foundation and experiencing its commitment to our youth reconnected me with a lot of those values and beliefs,” she says. “Throughout my career I’ve always placed an emphasis on innovation and creating the change you want to see in the world. I saw that with the Community Foundation.”
Both Miller and Walden offered kind words of respect for Foundation staff and those they served with on the Foundation board.
“For me, being the president of the local university, it came with the job that I needed to be involved with local causes such as the Community Foundation – and I was proud to serve,” says Miller. “But there are others who are serving purely out of the goodness of their hearts. It was a great joy to part of such a committed group and to experience such selfless service. They have my utmost respect.”
“I respected the board and staff’s willingness to change to remain relevant and sustainable, to challenge each other to be better,” added Walden. “I loved being able to take that challenge on in a way that was respectful and honored the Foundation’s long history in the community.
“It was a real pleasure working with like-minded people who were thoughtful and committed to creating a better world for those who live in the communities we serve.”
Established in 1941, the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain is “Where Good Begins” in Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. The Foundation works to inspire philanthropy, manage permanent charitable assets effectively, and partner to address key community issues through strategic leadership. For more information, visit www.cfgnb.org.