Voices of Philanthropy with Lynne Layton, Chowan Community Funds Foundation President

Lynne Layton is an Edenton resident who has been a member of our local affiliate foundation for several years. She recently completed her term of service as president of the Chowan Community Funds Foundation board of advisors. As we celebrate our affiliate presidents for the year ahead, we want to acknowledge those members who are ending their term. We asked Lynne to reflect on her time as president, and here’s what she told us.

How did you first get involved with your local affiliate?

It all began with a phone call from the president at the time, Katharine Farless, and a conversation about the board and how they were looking to grow over lunch.

I had served on other local boards, so I met with our Community Leadership Officer to learn more about the commitment and how the organization operates, from nonprofit grants to endowments.

What was it like to serve as your local affiliate board president?

I’m a worker bee naturally, so I had to challenge myself to speak as the leader and handle all the personalities on the board.

I have been blessed to have a great board with an amazing Vice President in Chris Ford. And Natalie, our community leadership officer, has been there every step of the way in support.

They’ve really helped to keep us moving in the right direction.

What reflections would you share on your tenure with other board members across the state?

My main reflection is that even though this board meets four times a year, one of those times is focused entirely on grantmaking, so that leaves you with only three meetings in a year.

It is mighty hard to get an awful lot accomplished like that. Your time is very limited.

On my board our challenge is to make better use of the short time we have together.

You’ve got to do stuff. You can’t just meet.

There’s got to be some action in there.

What are you proud of?

We co-hosted a nonprofit roundtable with the Edenton-Chowan Chamber of Commerce.

It was so successful. The food pantry director came and the stars and moon aligned.

An Edentonian then offered them a matching grant to build an endowment that they invested with us.

From that roundtable, the food pantry endowment was born.

I’m also very proud of the steps we’ve taken to grow our board’s diversity.

We’ve improved our ability to retain members and grown our board with several new folks making wonderful contributions.

Our board includes several members who hold endowments with us.

What challenged you?

We are so rural and have so much poverty. It can feel like there’s just never enough money for all of the needs.

I’m so proud of how our grants have been able to help the poor in our community. It warms my soul when we’re able to make grants and make a difference. It propels me to continue making a difference.

But there’s so much left to be done. And COVID has presented more challenges in different ways.

I have given up serving on a lot of boards to focus on the Foundation. It just touches so much of what is important to me: children, schools, the elderly and the arts. The Foundation is very impactful.

What do you feel like you learned?

When NCCF hosted a big event in Raleigh for all the boards to come, with roundtables and speakers, I learned so much at that.

At that meeting, Mr. Jim Black and his family were on the stage, and they spoke about their family endowment.

Most of us feel like endowments mean you have to start with mega-funds and be a millionaire. But you really don’t.

The Black family sold some poor performing stock and invested it in the foundation.

There you go. They started an endowment.

That event planted several seeds with me. I came home with tools.

I do hope to keep participating in NCCF events like that.

What did you find most inspiring?

It’s touching to see what $2,000 or even $500 grants can do.

To hear these folks tell us what was done, how it was used, who it touched and the lives improved, that’s what it’s about. That’s what propels me to stick with the board, encourage the board and grow the board.

We make big impacts even with small amounts.

NCCF wishes to thank all of our outgoing affiliate board presidents and recognize their service to NCCF and our state.