SRQ Daily: Leading for the Greater Good – My First Six Months

SRQ Daily: Leading for the Greater Good – My First Six Months

The following guest column by Phillip P. Lanham appeared in the Saturday, December 16, 2023 edition of SRQ Daily

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude,” Brene Brown.

As I reflect on December as the season of generosity, I am grateful for the warm welcome that I’ve received since arriving in the Gulf Coast region in June. In fact, over the last six months of my leadership at Gulf Coast Community Foundation (Gulf Coast), I’ve experienced an outpouring of kindness. From the hundreds of individuals I’ve had the honor of meeting, to how gracious everyone has been, I received a warm, generous welcome and was embraced with open arms when I came to this region and for that, I am grateful. With the support of champions and advocates who want our region to improve, I’m looking forward to planting deep roots in our community.

Since June, I have had the pleasure of attending nearly 150 meetings with donors, nonprofit partners, elected officials, peer funders, and many more on how we can better impact our region together. I joined the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and the boards of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County and Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. I look forward to continuing to build strong ties as we collectively support this community.

My onboarding has given me a well-rounded understanding of the opportunities for our community. In August, we held our Partners in Impact Breakfast where we gathered our past year’s grant recipients together to hear our upcoming priorities, our grant funding potential, and create an open forum to ask questions of their Gulf Coast team. It was a wonderful morning of strengthening partnerships through collaboration and transparency. Our strong nonprofit partners are paving the way for the greater good of our community and families.

About 10 people with shovels in hand break ground outside.
Gulf Coast’s Veterans Housing Groundbreaking

I was proud to see our Veterans Housing Groundbreaking come to life in October. Together, with generous philanthropists and through Gulf Coast’s Veterans Housing Initiative, we broke fresh ground on ten rental units in the City of Sarasota for low-income veterans, providing long-awaited, affordable housing for our country’s heroes. I was deeply inspired by the opportunity to give back to our veterans who have given it all to protect our freedom and to continue to make a difference in our priority of creating affordable housing in our region. The collaboration I witnessed with our donors was nothing short of inspirational, showing that when we come together, we can truly do more.

Community foundations are created to inspire philanthropy and make an impact in the region they serve. I want to grow both through strong partnerships with our donors. Gulf Coast donors and fundholders appreciate our community knowledge and our ability to provide excellent service, flexible options, and meaningful community impact. In my conversations with donors since my arrival, several have shared they want an even stronger partnership to invest in our region. As we create our future strategy, we’re dreaming of ways to bring that to life. After all, we’re better together.

Working towards the greater good has been the hallmark of my career. It’s the through-thread that ties all my experiences together. The culture in our community, from Boca Grande to Venice to Lakewood Ranch, values the greater good across the board. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

Phillip P. Lanham is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.