Stewardship Personified

Thursday, December 17, 2015 - 17:30

The notion of stewardship suggests more than mere responsibility. A steward assumes a duty of caring and loyalty well beyond what law and custom require.

Three Community Partners volunteer directors epitomize what lies at the heart of stewardship as they complete their terms of service on board.

Jack Shakely has been a steadfast supporter of Community Partners since well before we formally established the organization. While in the role of President & CEO at California Community Foundation, Shakely in 1991 helped guide our very first grant proposal – to explore the feasibility of creating Community Partners – through CCF’s board. Long a friend of our late founding board chair, Albert R. Rodriguez, and both a mentor and friend to me, Shakely was the first person to say “yes, I will serve” when Al enlisted his membership on the founding board of our fledgling effort. Besides serving as chair from 1997 to 1999, Shakely has been and will continue being an inspired and often hilariously funny source of advice, guidance and perspective.

Jim De Bree joined the original board of directors at Al’s invitation in 1991. As long-time chair of the audit committee and board chair himself from 2003 to 2005, Jim’s astute fiscal sense and depth of experience as a CPA assured his fellow board members – as well as project funders and leaders – that every dollar meant for fulfilling our civic mission has done just that. Jim has brought a steward’s bigger vision of ever-greater possibilities for the organization. He advocated ceaselessly for investing in our intellectual capital – personified in our first-class staff – arguing that we are only as good as the ways in which we put our good minds to work in concert on behalf of the people of the Southern California region.

Lisa Cleri Reale served as chair from 2009 to 2011 after joining the board in 1999. Her business experience as a former Times Mirror executive, her energetic work as a consultant to nonprofit organizations and her seasoning in the field of philanthropy lent her special insight and ground-level credibility to the challenges faced by leaders of sponsored projects. Lisa assumed the reins of the Community Partners board just as the 2008 recession cast a pall over communities, households, businesses and nonprofits nationwide. It’s a tribute to her unwavering optimism that the organization underwent a period of unprecedented growth during her tenure. Her enthusiasm, charm and infectious laughter lightened and lifted every board meeting.

I am humbled that three fine people such as these would lend for so many years their prestige, civic reach and relationships to the day-to-day fulfillment of Community Partners’ mission. Every leader wants to feel flanked, broadened and supported by the people whose stewardship serves as a pivot between the community’s trust and the organization’s good name. These board members flesh out to the fullest the meaning of ‘stewardship’.