Fairfield Community Foundation leader to retire after driving growth

Linda Yarger, president of the Fairfield Community Foundation, will retire when her replacement is found this year (2021) or until the end of September. PROVIDED
Linda Yarger, president of the Fairfield Community Foundation, will retire when her replacement is found this year (2021) or until the end of September. PROVIDED

Foundation President Linda Yarger will stay on until a replacement is found, or until the end of September.

When Linda Yarger steps down this year as the Fairfield Community Foundation’s president, she hopes her successor “will just take it to the next level and soar.”

Yarger announced her retirement this week, giving the Community Foundation’s board up to five months to find a replacement. She said she will stay on until a replacement is found, or until the end of September.

“I felt that everything in my past prepared me for this position,” she said.

After spending 35 years in the healthcare industry, she started with the foundation on May 27, 2017, and believes she’s leaving the foundation in a better position when she eventually steps down.

“Everybody’s worked so hard to get to where we are,” said Yarger of her staff and the foundation’s board of directors. “I don’t want to skip off into the sunset and leave them without a good leader.”

In the four years with Yarger at the helm of the day-to-day operations, the foundation has grown its assets from a little more than $3 million to an anticipated $5 million when its fiscal year ends at the end of this month.

“We’ve given hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants, and we’re really proud of that,” she said. “I’ve got a wonderful board, and they have given me a lot of room to grow the foundation, which is really wonderful.”

Fairfield Community Foundation Board of Trustee Chair Brian Begley said Yarger “has done a tremendous job driving the foundation forward.”

“She has grown our visibility and increased foundation assets with her constant presence in Fairfield and Fairfield Twp.,” he said. “I’m most proud of how she has embraced a leadership role in the community, serving as board chair for the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, serving on the Opiate Task Force and advisory committee for Fairfield Focus, and being a board member for the Fairfield Rotary Club.”

One of the things Yarger is most proud of while at the foundation is the work with the community’s nonprofits. She said some of those nonprofits have “lots of passion,” they were at risk as they didn’t have a lot of business acumen. With the help of Community Development Professionals in Hamilton, Yarger worked to set up a Sustainability Grant where CDP worked with these nonprofits to learn how to be sustainable.

“That was really thrilling and we’ve had some success with that,” she said. “Our nonprofits are so valuable to us and they need to know how to run the business.”

She’s also proud to have started the Community Assistance Fund when the novel coronavirus pandemic forced businesses and organizations to shut down.

“When COVID hit in March, everyone was scared over losing their jobs because businesses were shutting down,” Yarger said. “I started calling donors and they started contributing.”

In retirement, Yarger will spend more time with her soon-to-be eight grandchildren (number eight is expected to be born before the end of June), golfing and spending time with her husband, Garry, who retired five years ago.

While family and golf will take up a lot of her time, there will still be time to make a difference in the community. She was approached recently to be on a board of an area nonprofit, and she saw that as a sign her retirement announcement was the right decision.

“I really love the nonprofit world and I wasn’t really ready to give that up, and I don’t have to,” Yarger said. “I can join a couple of boards, and do some good work, but not a full-time basis.”

Those interested in applying to lead the Fairfield Community Foundation can apply online at fairfieldcommunityfoundation.org/about-us.

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