CFJC Emeritus Board Members Reflect on Foundation History

Emeritus board members of the Community Foundation of Jackson County (CFJC) gathered in Maquoketa on Sept. 14 to share memories, recall impactful changes, and discuss the challenges they faced during their time in office. “We wanted to thank these former board members for their years of time, talent and service to the community,” said Mary Jo Gothard, CFJC director.

Seven emeritus board members attended: Darwin Schipper, 2012-2016; Dick Kunau, 2005-2011; Bob Osterhaus, founding board member, 1982-1990; Leighton Hepker, 1997-2003; Ron Dellagardelle, 1997-2000; Lenke Carson, 2007-2013; and Kerry Schepers, 2014-2017.

The ninth community foundation in the state, CFJC was established in 1982 as the Maquoketa Area Foundation to help individuals throughout Jackson County make a positive impact on the communities they cared about. A seven-member volunteer board met for monthly brown-bag lunches at the Chamber of Commerce office on South Main Street. From a humble beginning consisting of $3,000 in donations, the board created a nonprofit organization to accept gifts and make grants back to the community.

“There were three major benefactors that showed interest in forming the foundation, and to this day these are some of the largest funds that we still hold,” says Gothard, naming Elizabeth Derganz, Alta Bailey and Harris Penrose. “It was a vision of some of these donors early on that helped us continue to be who we are today.”

In 2006, the Maquoketa Area Foundation acquired National Standards accreditation. Its name changed to the Maquoketa Area Community Foundation, and later to the Community Foundation of Jackson County, to reflect a commitment to a larger geographical area being served through the Foundation's grantmaking.  CFJC joined the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque in 2012 as an affiliate foundation and today is CFGD’s largest affiliate, holding over $9 million in total assets.

Emeritus board member Leighton Hepker recalled the Hughes farm, a gift to the foundation during his tenure that is still making an impact today. The board also noted the improvement of CFJC’s vast scholarship application process over the years, due in part to advancements in technology. Last year, CFJC awarded 107 scholarships totaling $134,220.

The mission of the Community Foundation of Jackson County is to nurture charitable giving, enrich quality of life and promote a sense of community now and in the future. The emeritus board members expressed a desire to see more emphasis within that mission on memorial funds, which are permanent funds for accepting gifts made in a loved one's memory that can support a nonprofit or cause of the family’s choice forever. Legacy giving was another topic of focus; board members encourage philanthropists to make CFJC a beneficiary in estate planning.

Kunau described enjoying his years of service, when the foundation changed its name from the Maquoketa Area Community Foundation to the Community Foundation of Jackson County – which invited inclusion countywide.

These reflections were shared over a warm breakfast and hot coffee at Flapjacks Family Restaurant in Maquoketa. “The emeritus board members are already anticipating next year’s gathering,” says Gothard.

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