March 21, 2022

Cameron Foundation’s President to retire at end of year

J. Todd Graham, President of The Cameron Foundation, has announced his plans to retire, effective December 31, 2022. His departure from the Foundation will cap 40 years of executive experience in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors in communities across the country.

Graham assumed his position as Cameron’s president in the fall of 2012. Over the course of his leadership, he worked closely with the Foundation’s Board and staff to develop proactive grantmaking into a major component of the group’s philanthropic strategy. The resulting work includes supporting a number of innovative projects, such as the establishment of school-based health clinics in Petersburg and Hopewell high schools; a teacher residency program in Petersburg schools to recruit, train and retain new teachers; a collaborative demonstration project to revitalize distressed historic neighborhoods; a creative, large-scale placemaking initiative with installations at strategic gateways in Hopewell, Petersburg and Prince George; affordable artist housing development; workforce training programs for local manufacturers as well as the emerging pharmaceutical industry cluster; and, master planning and improvements to the 25-mile long Appomattox River Trail system.

“Todd led us to see proactive grantmaking’s role as a new, high impact philanthropic strategy to supplement the Foundation’s traditional responsive grants program and nonprofit capacity-building initiatives,” said Cameron’s Board Chair, J. Tolleison Morriss, VI. Proactive initiatives are often collaborative projects of significant scale with the potential to leverage funding from other sources and that yield a more long-term benefit for the community. “Since the launch of this strategy in 2015, we estimate that our proactive grants have leveraged approximately $47 million from other sources – which amounts to more than $4 from other sources for every $1 that Cameron has committed proactively,” Morriss noted.

Recently, in swift response to the significant effects of the pandemic on the Tri-Cities area, Graham led the staff and Board to pivot the Foundation’s work by creating special initiatives, such as support for the Crater Health District to hire community health workers to provide regional outreach and education about vaccinations; general operating and other emergency support to area nonprofits; technology infrastructure upgrades and mental health supports for area school districts; and, major funding alongside a partnership with the Governor’s Commonwealth Connect Fund and Dinwiddie and Sussex counties to help provide universal broadband coverage in rural sections of Cameron’s service area.

At the conclusion of 2021, the Foundation also marked a significant milestone, celebrating over $100 million in grant awards since the institution’s founding in 2003.

“After 10 years of serving as president, it’s time to pass the mantle to others. Leadership transition is healthy for place-based foundations, which often wield significant influence in their region. A change in leadership can open doors to new ideas and approaches to addressing community needs,” explained Cameron President J. Todd Graham.

Prior to joining The Cameron Foundation, Graham fulfilled an impressive career in community development and philanthropic leadership roles. He began in city planning and economic development in Virginia and Ohio, including 16 years leading a consortium of over 40 institutions and businesses in downtown Cleveland. His first executive position in philanthropy was leading a foundation funded by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and owner of the Seattle Seahawks, to address the impacts of the new Seahawks Stadium on surrounding communities in downtown Seattle. He also served for eight years as President/CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, one of the largest grantmaking foundations in the state, and the Iowa West Racing Association, the nonprofit license holder for three casinos.

Graham received his bachelor of arts degree in history, cum laude, from Wake Forest University; subsequently, he earned a master of city planning from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

Graham’s return to Virginia and acceptance of his current role at The Cameron Foundation helped to bring him full circle at the pinnacle of this distinguished career. “Having roots in Southside Virginia, it was a privilege upon my return to this area to be able to draw from so much relevant experience from around the country to help Cameron in pivoting to more high-impact, long-term strategies while also continuing to serve the region with its responsive grants program and capacity-building portfolio.”

The Cameron Foundation’s Board will conduct a nationwide search for Graham’s successor with assistance from an executive search firm. When available, the position profile will be posted on the Foundation’s website.

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