Mindy Oakley, 45, Nonprofit Leader
Bill Gates once said: “Effective philanthropy requires a lot of time and creativity – the same kind of focus and skills that building a business requires.” And through her work in philanthropy since moving to Greensboro in 2002, Mindy Oakley has learned that to be true.
After receiving her MBA from the Wharton School of Business and working in San Francisco, the New Hampshire native came to Greensboro with her husband for his job with his family’s business and soon landed a job with the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro (CFGG). “The foundation gave me the opportunity to make my own local connections and see the city through my own lens,” Oakley says.
While with CFGG, which establishes charitable funds and makes annual gifts from earnings to support worthy causes, Oakley is particularly proud of her efforts helping to launch programs valuable to the city’s economy and quality of life. One in particular is Women to Women, which is an endowed grant-making fund that focuses on programs that help women become economically independent. Another is the Public Art Endowment that helps make possible the installation of public artworks in Greensboro.
Now as executive director for the Edward M. Armfield Sr. Foundation, Oakley makes grants that fulfill Armfield’s vision of the value of education. In fact, the Armfield Foundation pledged $1 million towards the purchase of a major work of public art to anchor LeBauer Park. We now know that piece as “Where We Met” by famed artist Janet Echelman. The sculpture is an undulating, colorful net hung high above the park’s great lawn and represents an old map of NC railroad tracks connecting the state’s major textile hubs at the time.
The grant for “Where We Met” in LeBauer Park provides an important and significant addition to Greensboro’s landscape, while honoring Ed Armfield and the textile employees who gave so much to this community.
“Every day I think about how to make grants to improve life in Greensboro on all levels,” Oakley says. “Working with lots of different people, I’m able to give back to our community to help make it stronger.”
“It’s truly the best job in Greensboro.”