Special to 1812Blockhouse

Brady Groves has announced his retirement as president of the Richland County Foundation after serving 13 years in that position. The RCF Board of Trustees has named Senior Community Investment Officer Allie Watson as the incoming president of the organization.

By leading the Foundation to transition from responsive to proactive grantmaking, Groves showed the community how philanthropy can support organizations and communities alike. 

“Brady has been an exemplary leader, steering the Foundation through a transformative era,” said RCF Board of Trustees Chair Chris Hiner.

High-impact projects led by Groves included the creation of the Osborne Meese Academy, Richland Gives, an economic development strategy, and the Mansfield Rising Plan. 

“I was fortunate to have worked with staff and a board who were open to re-imagining the ways we could impact the community. The success of these lofty ideas was realized only through the steadfast commitment of community partners with a shared vision of wanting to improve the lives of people in Richland County,” said Groves.

The Foundation invested $1.5 million in a transformative 7-year economic development strategy. The plan called “Richland Partnership” included: the centralization of business retention and expansion and workforce development at the Richland Community Development Group, a scale-up program to identify and target services to area companies to address specific challenges and catalyze growth, the empowerment of existing organizations to promote entrepreneurship and related services, and a community website to track successes and growth.

During the pandemic, Groves created an opportunity for nonprofit directors to come together and brainstorm ways that organizations could support the citizens of Richland County. Funding was distributed quickly with all parties at the table able to contribute opinions.

Watson will become president on April 16.

“We believe that Allie’s leadership will not only sustain but elevate the Foundation’s mission. She brings a wealth of knowledge and a deep understanding of the community,” said Hiner.

Watson has been with the Foundation since 2012 facilitating grants and supporting nonprofit organizations. Watson helped to create the Osborne Meese Academy, a capacity-building workshop for nonprofit organizations and Mansfield Rising, an investment plan for the Central Business District. Successes of the plan include upgrades to the city’s main thoroughfares, a community branding campaign, creation of public art, facade improvements to downtown businesses, free public Wi-Fi, and free outdoor movies.

“I am excited to lead such an exceptional organization that contributes in a significant way to the betterment of our community. In every corner of our county, RCF has touched individuals, neighborhoods, and communities in some way,” said Watson.

Watson is a native of Mansfield and has a strong commitment to the Foundation’s mission which is to improve the quality of life in Richland County through strategic philanthropy and community leadership.

Watson graduated from St. Peter’s High School. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Master of Science degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Source: Richland County Foundation; Photo: 1812Blockhouse

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