Getting to Know MCF’s New Executive Director, Veronica Thames
Dear Manatee Community,
It is with much excitement that I look forward to my start as Manatee Community Foundation’s Executive Director on August 24. I am grateful to the Search Committee for their dedication to investing in MCF’s future. I have seen how cohesive you are, and how driven by purpose and mission, and it warms my heart and confirms my decision to join you in the pursuit of a better tomorrow.
And as I look into that bright future ahead, I stand on the shoulders of those who have come before me. There are no words of appreciation that can celebrate Susie Bowie’s tremendous contributions and dedication for seven remarkable years. Thanks to Susie’s vision, the Foundation is thriving today and is poised for even more great things to come. And before her, Marilyn Howard, who set the course for the successes of today. It is truly a privilege, and I am humbled, to follow their footsteps.
Let me also take the opportunity to highlight Jennifer, Alicia, and Simone. From my limited interactions with them thus far, I can see they are a force to reckon with, and drivers of change for good. I am especially grateful to Jennifer, who has done a stellar job holding down the fort and supporting your strategic work in our community.
As a young immigrant, I relocated to the US due to my father’s job. I faced many challenges with English as my second language, and migrating from city life to Boca Raton, FL two weeks before starting college. Having lived in a third-world country, I quickly realized I was given the most incredible gift to live in the land of opportunity. I recognized my privilege then and made it my life’s mission to create opportunities for all. I took a leap of faith into philanthropy 5 years ago and I know in my heart it is where I belong. This is why “to partner with our citizens to strengthen and enhance our community through philanthropy, education, and service—now and forever,” is a mission that aligns with my personal quest.
I was born in Buenos Aires, where I lived my formative years, and have resided in Manatee County, Orlando, Los Angeles, and the East Coast, as well. I chose to come back to live in this community with its authentic culture, where I feel I can make the biggest difference. I have a personal interest in MCF’s success, due to my personal connection to the community with ties to Lakewood Ranch, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School, the Manatee Sheriff’s Office, local hospitals, community leaders, businesses, and nonprofits. I am invested in seeing our community thrive.
The opportunities for growth are many. As the only community foundation in the County, and with its strong local donor support and local partnerships, MCF is uniquely positioned to leap forward while maintaining and elevating the values of leadership, transparency, trust, integrity, loyalty, respect, and inclusivity in its work. As a diverse leader, I will bring a new perspective to current initiatives and honor the incredible legacy that has built MCF as a values-based organization. On its quarter-century anniversary, and supported by a stellar board and staff, MCF is poised to address the emerging needs that have come from the significant regional growth we have experienced, ensure funding for its operations into perpetuity, and amplify its impact for generations to come.
I look forward to having an opportunity to learn from you, partner with you, and honor our traditions, so we can transform our community, together.
Thank you for supporting me and our team through this transition!
-Veronica Thames, Incoming Manatee Community Foundation Executive Director