A Q&A with Ryan Schwartz

Introducing Ryan Schwartz,
2018-2019 Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Ryan A. Schwartz, chief operating officer of US Assure, assumed the role of chairman of The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees in January. No stranger to the business or nonprofit community, Ryan has been an important member of the board since 2011, chairing TCF’s Finance Committee from 2013-2016. We sat down with Ryan as he began his two-year term:

Q: You have a broad view of the local nonprofit community, having chaired the boards of The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville. How do you see TCF’s role?

A: The Community Foundation provides an important voice for the independent sector. There’s a set of interests and desires of our benefactors, and then there’s community need and organizational mission from the nonprofit sector, and I think we’re an ideal connector of those two. We do an enormous amount of work to make sure the independent sector is strong and vibrant. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that the investments that our donors make are as effective as possible as well as highlighting areas where our donors can contribute to what we like to call “building a better community” in a meaningful way.

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Q: Part of our stated mission is to stimulate philanthropy. do you have thoughts about expanding our efforts in this area?

A: I think we’ve done a great job identifying certain pockets of interests — Women’s Giving Alliance, the LGBT community, people at the Beaches, and the use of Professional Advisors as partners. I’d like to see us focus more on identifying wealth as it comes into this community and then cultivating it. We¬† have a responsibility to educate people on the benefits of philanthropy. There are so many benefits to the donor. My philanthropic and civic journey (not to mention my participation in the Foundation’s Weaver Philanthropic Initiative many years ago) have been rich beyond my imagination. It is truly a two-sided partnership between donor and grantee and I cannot think of a time when it hasn’t been mutually beneficial.

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Q: TCF’s Neighborhoods Initiative should really take off during your term as chairman. How are you feeling about this work?

A: I’m very excited by the potential of our Neighborhoods work. By its nature, it will differ than what we’ve done with say, public education reform, and people need to understand that. I expect TCF’s impact on neighborhoods to be equivalent, if not more so, to what was done in the education space, which is nothing short of miraculous. We have changed the dialogue, created capacity, we have created accountabilities, and I expect we will do the same even though the Neighborhoods work is going to feel and look very different.

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Q: Do you have a particular leadership priority as you step into the Chairman’s role?

A: Individually, each of my fellow Trustees have a sterling reputation and are great contributors. But I know there’s a special chemistry that happens when they all come together. I’ve seen them be courageous, but I’ve also seen them be willing to be vulnerable, to ask questions and let others help educate them in the spirit of getting to the best answer. And I’m convinced that, because of that curiosity and willingness to be open to each other, we end up with solutions that really answer the needs in our community and advance the time honored tradition of philanthropy which is so strong here in Northeast Florida. Nothing makes me prouder. My specific priority is to let our very talented and highly professional staff do what they do best while the Trustees continue to grow the Foundation’s support base, advocate, promote our work and serve as strategic advisors. Selfishly, I am worried the time will fly by!