Gladys Hairston Joins Team

From Kevin Cain, President and CEO

There is someone I’d like you to meet and welcome to the area.  And it’s not only because she’s new to Raleigh and we love to make newcomers feel at home. It’s also because if you meet her you will likely be working in some way with the John Rex Endowment to create a place where children and their families live healthy lives.  Gladys Hairston is our new, and first, Program Associate.

As we crafted our five-year plan, Our Plan for Impact, 2013-2018, we invested more resources into fostering learning, facilitating partnerships, measuring change, and communicating about the journey. We believe all of these actions will amplify the impact of the grants that are awarded over the course of the plan and move us further towards our goals in Healthy Foods and Active Living, Preventing Injury, Positive Mental Health, and Nonprofit Capacity Building.  We want to be a part of relationships that unravel complex issues surrounding each goal and discover ways to address those issues.

Our new Program Associate, Gladys, will provide support to all of our grant programs and program-related initiatives, with an emphasis on grant management.  The new post recognizes the fact that our five-year plan calls on the John Rex Endowment to take a more active role in organizing grant programs and learning from the experience.  Together, our Program Director, Kate Shirah, and Gladys’s carefully coordinated, focused attention will heighten our appreciation of the work being done and our understanding of the agencies involved so we can grab opportunities to be more effective.

Amping up our communications is another strategy we’re using to increase impact. McAllister Myhra, Director of Operations, has shifted her priorities to raise the profile of the John Rex Endowment’s work by sharing news about our activity in the county and the lessons being learned through our work.  We expect that building awareness of the five-year plan will also build support for its goals and attract more resources to an environment that supports living healthy lives.

Complimenting both of these internal shifts is our use of experts who can work with us in the community to build consensus around priorities, promote an evidence-based approach, and create more positive environments for peer learning: the involvement of Active Living By Design and Advocates for Health in Action with Wake County municipalities, the injury prevention work of the Healthy Solutions team from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy’s involvement with positive mental health.

With the clear aspirations of Our Plan for Impact, 2013-2018, we can dig deeper into the complex issues contributing to the disparities in the well-being of children that we want to change.   And with the resources we have committed with staff and technical assistance we will do the digging with those of you in the community who share our ambition to making those changes.  Involving funded organizations, other funders, expert resources, and community leaders can help us all work more productively to build an environment for healthy living in Wake County.   We look forward to sharing the experience, learning together, and celebrating progress with you.

A note from Kate Shirah - Over the past six years I’ve had the great pleasure to work with many of you as you think about how to make Wake County a better place for children to grow and develop, and reach their fullest potential.     I’m excited to add directing grant management to my current responsibilities.  My hope is that we will continue to facilitate a seamless transition between developing grant applications to carrying out awarded grants.  Thus, it was critical that we identified a new team member who could work well with grantees and represent our organizational values, all while juggling shifting priorities and responsibilities.  We also knew it would be a plus if we found someone with prior philanthropic experience.  I was told it was a tall order, but I firmly believe that if you ask, you can receive!  Gladys comes to the John Rex Endowment with almost seven years of experience working for The Harvest Foundation in Martinsville, VA.  Her willingness to do what is needed, and her keen ability to listen, pause, and reflect will serve her well in her role as Program Associate and enhance the openness and approachability that we strive for in our interactions with applicants and grantees.  I hope you will join me in giving a warm welcome to Gladys.

Hello from Gladys Hairston - I look forward to getting to know and learning from grantees and community partners of the John Rex Endowment.  I’m passionate about philanthropy and the role it can play in forging partnerships, cultivating new ideas, and enhancing the lives of children and families.  It is my hope that my previous experience in forming relationships with those who execute grant-funded programs, as well as with those served by the programs, will help me be a useful resource to you in accomplishing the goals for your organizations and for the community as a whole.  I’m excited to make Wake County my home.