It has been an active few weeks at the Golden LEAF Foundation as we adjust to the departure of long-term President Dan Gerlach who was recently named interim chancellor at East Carolina University. As the Golden LEAF Board of Directors begins the search for our next president, the Golden LEAF team has remained focused on our mission to create lasting economic impact in rural, tobacco-dependent and economically distressed North Carolina communities. In fact, the Board awarded grants totaling over $7.9 million at its meeting earlier this month.
The Board has hired the experienced North Carolina-based executive search firm Elinvar to facilitate the presidential search and oversee the selection process. We expect to hire the next president by the end of 2019. Until then, I will serve as acting president. We have posted more information about the search on our website https://www.goldenleaf.org/job-description-application/ for your information.
As you will see in this edition of Golden LEAF News, the Foundation is celebrating 20 years of awarding scholarships to students from North Carolina’s rural communities. Golden LEAF Board members and staff has been busy personally presenting scholarships across the state. Our 215 scholarship recipients will receive up to $12,000 to attend a North Carolina college or university. They also can participate in the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program offered through the Center of Creative Leadership in Greensboro. The leadership program includes a paid summer internship in a rural county for the students. We believe that by giving students these professional opportunities in rural communities they will be more likely to pursue careers there when they graduate from college. We have awarded more than 19,000 scholarships since 2000 and are proud to help grow the talent, knowledge and skills of rural North Carolinians through postsecondary education.
We encourage all scholarship alumni to help us stay connected through our recently launched Golden LEAF Scholars Professional Alumni Network (G-SPAN) by contacting Barbara Smith, Program Officer for Golden LEAF Scholarships, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to share updates on our scholars, who often return home to live and work after graduation.
As hurricane season begins, we cannot forget another important aspect of Golden LEAF’s work: helping communities recover from the damages caused by Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence. Golden LEAF staff visited 21 sites in May as part of our continuing hurricane relief and recovery work. To date, using funds appropriated to Golden LEAF by the state and contributed by the public to the N.C. Hurricane Florence Relief Fund, Golden LEAF has awarded 179 grants totaling more than $85.4 million for hurricane relief and recovery efforts.
We continue to enjoy opportunities to celebrate the critical ongoing work of our grantees throughout rural North Carolina. I recently presented a ceremonial check to the Board of the Elizabeth City Pasquotank Public Schools, recognizing two grants that will help the schools align STEM education with the needs of local employers. Just in time for summer, Oak Island, one of our Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery grant recipients, held a ribbon cutting for the town-owned pier that was rebuilt and made more resilient after being destroyed by the storm. And we attended the opening of new greenhouses at NCSU built with funds from Golden LEAF, the NC Certified Sweetpotato Seed Growers Association and others that will produce disease-free sweetpotato plants for sale to North Carolina farmers.
I look forward to staying connected to you in the coming months as the Golden LEAF Foundation continues to work for rural North Carolina communities.
Ted Lord, Acting President