Voices of Philanthropy: Natalie Bess, Deputy County Manager for Edgecombe County

Natalie Bess is the Deputy County Manager for Edgecombe County and a new member of the Edgecombe Charitable Foundation affiliate board.  Despite her entire membership being a virtual experience so far, Natalie is actively engaged and looking forward to what’s ahead.  We asked her to share more about her first year as a board member, and here’s what she said.


How did you first learn about the Edgecombe Charitable Foundation?

I’m a Licensed attorney, but years ago, I wanted a change and became the Executive Director for Communities in Schools in Rocky Mount. I was at a community meeting where I met members of the Futrell-Mauldin Community Foundation for Rocky Mount, the Women Givers of Rocky Mount, and Kelly Lee, NCCF program officer in the region.  They told me about the work of the Edgecombe Charitable Foundation, and I learned all about their local grant-making.

How did you become a member of the affiliate foundation board?

I am the Deputy County Manager for Edgecombe County, and on my first or second day in the office, our County Attorney, Michael Peters, who also is Vice President of the Edgecombe Charitable Foundation, asked me to consider joining the board.  I also had previously met Mary Jane Jenkins, the current President of the affiliate foundation board, working on community events together.  

What has your first year of membership been like?  What have you enjoyed the most?

My first year as a board member has been all by Zoom! Still, I have learned about many facets of the county and the needs of different parts of our county through the Community Needs Assessment.  And I have really enjoyed the new member orientation sessions! 

Tell us more about your experience with the New Board Member Orientation series. 

I am someone who likes to listen, and I also really like having the handouts and other materials we receive before or after the sessions.  Each session of the orientation builds upon the ones before it, which helps bring it all together.  It’s also very interesting to see members of boards from other affiliate foundations from across the state. Having the wide variety of people give us all more insight to pull from as we learn.  The more, the merrier!

What are you most looking forward to about serving your community as a member of the Edgecombe Charitable Foundation?  

I am really looking forward to seeing how grants and scholarships made through the Edgecombe Charitable Foundation create opportunities for our community.  My husband is a high school teacher at Tarboro High School, and I have been involved in Scholarship Programs there. I personally have seen how the scholarships affected students who really needed that support. And, of course, I am looking forward to when the board can meet safely in person again, too!