Change and commitment at Golden LEAF

Published 12:20 pm Friday, November 16, 2007

By Staff
Rick Holder is chairman of the Golden LEAF board of directors. :::: — The Washington Daily News is allowing the publication of guest editorials from select individuals and organizations on issues of local and regional significance. The views expressed by guest editorialists do not necessarily reflect those of the Washington Daily News, its owners or employees. If you would like to be considered as a future editorialist, please send an e-mail with your name and intended topic to: — ::::
The Golden LEAF Foundation helps North Carolinians forge new paths to prosperity. As our economy transitions from a focus on tobacco to new forms of industry, it’s critical that North Carolinians successfully transition with it. It’s a mission we promise to proudly and prudently carry on into the future.
For eight years, Golden LEAF has gone about its important business under the leadership of President Valeria Lee. Now, after decades of service to the people of North Carolina, Valeria has announced she will retire in March.
Valeria’s announcement makes for a good opportunity to reflect both on our successes and the challenges ahead. Golden LEAF (Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation) was formed in 1999 to administer part of North Carolina’s portion of the master settlement agreement with major tobacco companies. Our charge is to help the people of tobacco-dependent or economically distressed communities find new ways to make a good living.
Since then, we have made more than 600 grants amounting to more than $230 million — including 53 grants announced this month worth more than $15 million. We’ve focused on agricultural innovations, economic development and workforce training. Grants have gone to rural counties where, for example, we’re putting more computers in classrooms. Grants have gone to community colleges where former tobacco workers learn new skills in areas like biotechnology. Grants have gone to major universities to support training as well as the development of innovations that will eventually benefit people around the state.
In short, grants have gone to a wide variety of projects. But all of them support our mission of transition and prosperity.
It’s worth noting that funding for these grants comes from returns on the investments Golden LEAF has made. This strategic approach means that the foundation will be working to ensure a brighter future for many years to come.
We take our work very seriously. Valeria would never ever expect any less. Her commitment to North Carolina and to Golden LEAF has been unwavering. Bill Friday, one of North Carolina’s greatest advocates and a former chairman of Golden LEAF’s board, put it this way: “She brought to the foundation intelligence, energy and uncommon dedication to serve the people of our state. She succeeded and every citizen is much in her debt.”
As Golden LEAF’s current chairman of the board, I promise to all of you that the foundation will continue to operate at those high standards. We will continue to listen to the needs of North Carolinians and to help people around the state on their journey toward a bright tomorrow.
We look forward to introducing a new president in the near future. And most of all, we look forward to continuing to serve the people of North Carolina.