Kristin Todd, head of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado. Courtesy Community Foundation.

New foundation head sets sights on making impact

FORT COLLINS — Kristin Todd didn’t find her calling in Washington or law school or working for the re-election campaign of George Bush Sr. She found it in a soccer game. 

Todd used her political connections to find a job working for the Special Olympics in Connecticut, and that led to her playing on a unified soccer team, half able-bodied and half not. The team, and the job, made her realize she wanted to work in what she now calls “mission-driven work.” 

Kristin Todd will lead the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado.

“It was just that feeling of giving back,” Todd said in an interview, “and the ability of one person to make a difference.”

She moved to Colorado to spend eight years at the El Pomar Foundation and 18 at the Daniels Fund, where she was the number-two, before starting work in late April as the head of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado. 

She loved the Daniels Fund. But she’s excited about the opportunity to make the kind of difference she saw Special Olympics make.

“If I could talk to Bill Daniels — which of course I can’t — I would have counseled him to not…” she sighed and trailed off for a bit before continuing. 

“Even with the resources of the Daniels Fund, I felt like sometimes it was a mile wide and an inch deep, and it didn’t have the opportunity to deeply impact one single area because we were doing so many things,” she said. “Your focus (here) is one part of one state. The idea to really dig deep and work in one region was very appealing to me.” 

There are smaller but important goals, such as spreading the word that foundations are for most taxpayers, not just billionaires such as Daniels. Even those with a few hundred to give a year can approach the foundation and find ways for their gifts to make a difference in areas they are passionate about, Todd said. 

“We want to make philanthropy accessible,” Todd said. 

But it doesn’t just take money. Foundations, she said, have the unique ability to look at their community from a 30,000-foot view because of the way they act as neutral parties and bring non-profits, businesses and government organizations together to solve major problems.

The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is the problems really aren’t that different among the four major cities in the region, even between a wealthier town such as Windsor and a blue-collar, lower-income city such as Greeley: water, affordable housing and growth are all major issues the region needs to tackle, as resources are already scarce and the population should double by 2050. 

“One thing I’ve been most energized about is how well communities are coming together to work collaboratively,” Todd said. 

The foundation had something to do with that. Todd doesn’t take credit for it, as the work started before she got there. But it’s something she’s marked as a major goal for the foundation, and that was a reason she was named CEO and president back in April. 

“Her experience in maximizing community impact through strategic philanthropy, creative partnerships and authentic collaboration will serve the foundation and its communities well,” said Denise Juliana, chairwoman of the foundation board’s search committee, in a press release announcing her appointment. 

The work began many years ago, when the foundation brought leaders from Loveland, Greeley, Fort Collins and Windsor together to talk. That talk eventually turned to water, and after many meetings, the four cities have agreed to share resources, even to the point of perhaps building a regional wastewater treatment plant and using the same pipes to carry water to their cities. That simply would not have happened before those meetings. The foundation also sponsors a class, Water Literate Leaders, in conjunction with Colorado State University that brings regional leaders together to learn about water.

The success of that pushed Todd to direct the foundation to explore addressing other problems the same way, perhaps with affordable housing. Todd said the foundation needs to be invited to do so, but that exact encouragement of collaboration is something its donors want more of, Todd recently discovered in a survey. In fact, some donors may even be willing to fund those efforts, Todd said. 

“We can be the rallying cry to bring all those pieces together,” she said.

FORT COLLINS — Kristin Todd didn’t find her calling in Washington or law school or working for the re-election campaign of George Bush Sr. She found it in a soccer game. 

Todd used her political connections to find a job working for the Special Olympics in Connecticut, and that led to her playing on a unified soccer team, half able-bodied and half not. The team, and the job, made her realize she wanted to work in what she now calls “mission-driven work.” 

Kristin Todd will lead the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado.

“It was just that feeling of giving back,” Todd said in an interview, “and the ability of one person to make a difference.”

She moved to Colorado to spend eight years at the El Pomar Foundation and 18 at the Daniels Fund, where she was the number-two, before starting work in late April as the head of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado. 

She loved the Daniels Fund. But she’s excited about the opportunity to make the kind of difference she saw Special Olympics make.

“If I could talk to Bill Daniels — which of course I can’t — I would have counseled him to not…” she sighed and trailed off for a bit before continuing. 

“Even with the resources of the Daniels Fund, I felt like sometimes it was a mile wide and an inch deep, and it didn’t have the opportunity to deeply impact one single area because we were doing so many things,”…