Leading by example in Clayton County

Fran Passmore doesn’t think of herself as a leader — she’d rather listen than speak. The citizens of Monona, though, recognized her leadership skills and elected her mayor three times. In that role, she began to understand the frustrations, needs and desires of community members: challenges facing business owners, the importance of child care and the essential role  residents play in keeping their city vibrant.

In 2014, she joined the Clayton County Foundation for the Future’s advisory board and spent seven years in a leadership position learning about needs across  the county and leveraging grantmaking to meet them. “Trying to engage people and keep communities vibrant is our biggest challenge county-wide,” she says.

Fran’s 15-year involvement with the Monona Butterfly Garden and Trails project reflects her own commitment to community vitality and ties together her work and her beliefs. “My career was focused on nutrition and health, so I could see the health benefit of the trails for our community,” says Fran, a retired field specialist for Iowa State Extension Service.

After joining the Foundation and learning about how endowments can support community vitality, Fran encouraged the garden and trail committee to think about the project’s long-term future. Today, the committee receives an annual payout from its endowment fund, and it is currently reinvesting that payout to build sustainability for years to come.

Because of her love for the butterfly garden and trails, and the project’s positive impact on Monona, Fran’s estate plans include a legacy gift for its future preservation. She hopes payouts from the new fund will someday support a hired landscaper to help maintain the project. That forward thinking also extends to her faith community: She has planned another legacy gift to start an endowment for her church.

Contact us to learn about how you can harness the power of endowment to keep your Clayton County community vibrant.