Nancy Van Milligen

President and CEO

“In the public sphere, a mother’s love becomes social justice. The nurturing tenderness we feel for our own children becomes a desire for all children to succeed.”

Nancy has been president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque since we opened our doors in 2003. Since that time, she has established the Community Foundation as a trailblazer in community leadership and engagement initiatives, drawing the attention of funders across the nation. Through her direction, the Foundation has grown to support over 300 nonprofit partners and 4,000 donors, granting out $50 million to area nonprofits since inception.  

With a background in political science and public administration, social policy, and development; experiences serving on state boards and commissions; and decades of parenting her children and foster children, Nancy feels the stars aligned to bring her to her role in shaping the Community Foundation.  

“My husband and I have had children in our home for more than 40 years. Many of our children came to us from challenging situations, and we have done our best to advocate for them and teach them that although some obstacles seem too big – power, violence, inequality – there are always opportunities to make positive change and to be that positive change,” she says. “Being a parent to so many and at the same time working on the systems these children grow up in – education, foster care, health, safety – has influenced my life, my passion, and my decision-making.”

As President and CEO of the Foundation, Nancy is able to work daily on her passion – inclusive communities that support and nurture families. She brings together the energies and resources of nonprofit organizations, businesses and community volunteers to help increase awareness of the importance of giving back to the community and building connections that are critical to solving societal problems.  

Nancy is most proud of the systems change work tackling complex issues that communities are facing, such as brain health, racial equity, college access and others. The Foundation also hosts the Inclusive Dubuque network and through people and partnerships, works to build communities where all can participate and prosper. She is inspired by her team and the progress being made toward a high performing community: for high school graduates, kids gaining access to glasses or learning to read, or people having resources like training and job opportunities.  

Throughout her 20+ years as the leader of the Foundation, Nancy has experienced many instances of profound generosity. Recently she has been moved by the compassion of a fund holder who calls her annually to ask simply, “What do you see as today’s greatest need?” “Her love for humankind, her trust in the me to relay the community’s needs, and her lack of hesitation to help are truly inspiring,” says Nancy.

While rooted in Dubuque, Nancy extends her leadership to national organizations focused on rural community development. She represents the Foundation on the Coalition for Inclusive Communities and New Profit’s Rural, Small Towns & Indigenous (RSTI) Cohort; and the Thrive Rural Theory of Change Working Group. She currently serves on the Rural Schools Collaborative’s Board of Directors and is involved in the D5 coalition, a national initiative focused on growing diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy. She has previously served as chair of the Funders Network for Smart Growth, a member of on the Council on Foundations Public Policy Committee, and president of the Iowa Council on Foundations. 

Nancy earned a master’s degree in public administration from Southern Illinois University and received the SIU Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006. Nancy and her husband Mike have five children, 16 grandchildren, and were foster parents to 24 children. She enjoys reading, biking, swimming, and boating.  

Top photo by Kelly Davidson

Fun Fact

Q. Who is the newest member of your family?

A. Our black lab puppy, Milly!

Nancy Van Milligen President and CEO 563-588-2700