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Growing up, I often heard a story about my grandmother that resonated with me. At one point in time, she looked into her purse and found that she only had a dime. She was a single mother raising my dad and his brother in Helena, with a single dime.

Although my father was raised in this low-income household, he went on to become very successful professionally, serving as a bank president and the director of the board of housing. Personally, my parents were great role models. They taught me the value of hard work but also that, along the way, support will come from unlikely places if you have faith. I am blessed with abundance in my life and have been fortunate to help my children, friends, and strangers at times of need. Philanthropy is what I believe to be our life’s mission – to love one another.

Neighbors helping neighbors always seems to be the most effective solution. My heritage as a fourth generation Montanan combined with this philanthropic theory drives my support for the Montana Community Foundation. The MCF manages nearly 600 philanthropic funds that are used to administer grants to nonprofit partners and causes throughout Montana. The foundation connects donors throughout the state and raises awareness for both state and local issues. Affiliate local foundations are located in 45 Montana cities and towns, making the MCF the largest community foundation in the state. The foundation has a much larger role to play going forward as public funding is curtailed and our state’s population ages. The MCF is the organization that is best positioned to maintain our unique Montana lifestyle – in all its varying forms.

I am honored to serve with my fellow board members and the talented staff of the MCF in order to pursue the foundation’s mission of cultivating a culture of philanthropy so Montana communities can flourish. The MCF also allows me to work with various individuals who are passionate about causes important to them in the state. The foundation is producing results over and over, from payday lending reform and preserving the endowment tax credit, to supporting honor flights for our WWII veterans, and recreational areas for communities. There is no organization that does or could do as many varied projects while providing a great return on the endowments with which we are entrusted.

Serving the foundation as an officer on the board, I am very proud of the work we have done together. Most recently, the efforts which culminated in hiring Mary Rutherford as the foundation’s Chief Executive Officer. Rutherford brings nearly 20 years of experience in philanthropic leadership to the MCF. Notably, Rutherford led the $300 million University of Alaska Foundation. A 5th generation Idahoan, Rutherford brings an understanding of rural life to her role at the MCF.

We are delighted to bring Rutherford’s passion, experience and track record to MCF and know she will work tirelessly to further the Foundation’s Mission. Alongside the Foundation’s board, Rutherford will have no problem furthering the culture of giving in our state.

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All of us at the MCF look forward to a visionary future, with Rutherford’s help. We hope to be able to strengthen relationships with other community foundations, donors and nonprofits and continue to build a successful future for all of Montana.

Mary Craigle is a Montana native and is an active member in many philanthropic and charitable organizations. She is the Bureau Chief of the Montana Census and Economic Information Center and is Vice Chair of the U.S. Census Bureau State Data Centers Steering Committee.

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