Well-known Butler County official takes leadership of Oxford Community Foundation

With 15 years of community foundation service already in this county, the new executive director of the Oxford Community Foundation should find a little easier learning curve than many other possible candidates in the position, officials said.

Betsy Hope started in the job Aug. 12. She replaces Leah Flynn, who left as executive director in the spring to accept a position at the University of Cincinnati Foundation.

Hope had served more than 11 years as president of the Fairfield Community Foundation and another four years with the Hamilton Community Foundation.

Most recently, she served as director for several years at the Middletown Arts Center until someone told her about the opening at this foundation and she applied.

“Community foundations try to work together, so I was already familiar with the Oxford Community Foundation,” she said. “(The Oxford foundation) has awarded nearly $4 million since starting in 1996. We have 160 charitable funds.”

A week into her job, Hope was called on to attend a Talawanda Board of Education meeting where she presented the Harry and Virginia Teckman Award to the fifth-grade teaching staff of Kramer Elementary. The nomination included the teachers and principal because a grateful parent could not pinpoint one specific person, but nominated the grade-level staff.

“The selection committee decided to recognize a group of people for student help on the next step of the journey,” she said. “(The award) is to help the donor carry out this passion with an easy and safe vehicle to help do that.”

She said the foundation’s service area is the Talawanda School District including the townships of Reily, Milford and Hanover as well as Oxford and Oxford Twp.

“There is a lot of diversity, lots of needs, lots of nonprofits. It’s an interesting area,” she said. “There is a lot happening in Oxford to help people. I like the college town atmosphere. There is a lot of energy here.”

She said there are many generous people in the community who use the community foundation to give money they know will stay here. She cited the examples of the working with projects such as the new Aquatic Center, scholarships, arts and culture areas such as the Summer Music Concert series and the Oxford Community Arts Center as well as high school band programs. The foundation is also involved in beautification projects including discussions of decorative bike racks and gardens.

“It’s a beautiful city and we have a part of helping fund some of those projects,” she said.

Hope said she is getting oriented to the community and the position with plans to meet with many in the area to ask what they want to see in the community in the next few years. She said it is important to her to meet with people one-on-one, to listen and respond.

“We have the money to make things happen and need to see the priorities for Oxford,” she said. “Over the years, I have enjoyed working with people who want to make a difference. We have assets over $7 million and I want to get the word out we are here and what we can do.”

With the structure in place and the designated funds available to help the school district in a variety of areas, Hope said they are forming partnerships with donors.

“We make giving easy,” she said.

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