The Park City Community Foundation is gearing up for a big change.
Katie Wright, who has been with the philanthropic nonprofit for 13 years — six of them as executive director — says it’s time to step down to ponder her next adventure.
“I have really been in a position of service as executive director, and I’ve loved, and still love, every single day,” Wright said. “But I do believe life is about chapters, and I’m looking forward to what my next chapter is.”
Wright, who is scheduled to retire from her post on March 31, said the nonprofit’s board of directors is working with an outside firm to find the right replacement and ensure a smooth transition.
“The board and I are very committed to this transition, and we encourage anyone who is interested in the position to look for news on our website,” she said.
Wright’s tenure with the Park City Community Foundation, which included a record-breaking Live PC Give PC fundraiser that raised more than $3.4 million for local nonprofits at the beginning of this month, started when she was hired on as program director a few weeks after the Park City Community Foundation was established by John Cumming in 2008.
“We were launched very shortly after our nation went into a steep economic downturn, and we were focused on how we could support the vital community nonprofits who were addressing an ever-greater need with rapidly shrinking budgets,” she said.
Under Wright as program director, the foundation launched its community grant program and nonprofit education.
“We understood that some of the value we (wanted to) bring to Park City as a community foundation would broaden the pool of people who are engaged in giving their time and money to nonprofits,” she said. “I think that thread toward being a partner to our nonprofits is still at the heart of what we do.”
In 2014, Trish J. Worthington handed the executive director reins and responsibilities to Wright, who stepped up to continue the nonprofit’s work.
“Part of our role is to identify those challenges that need a community collaborative response,” Wright said. “The Community Foundation continues to bring innovative ideas and financial resources to bear on challenges central to our culture and community.”
Two of the programs the nonprofit introduced while Wright was executive director include the Early Childhood Alliance, which strives to ensure children up to the age of 3 in the Wasatch Back have opportunities to thrive, learn and grow into contributing members of the community, and the Park City Climate Fund, which distributes grants to organizations, businesses and people who are working to fight climate change.
“The work we are part of with early childhood and mental health is absolutely critical to ensure people can get up in the morning, take care of their families and go to work, is fundamental,” Wright said. “And as for the climate fund, we have a 10-year window as a world to reverse global climate change, and the innovation that is happening with our climate fund and the regional effort to set aggressive net-zero goals by 2030 and get to work on meeting those goals are inspiring and important.”
Another program that’s close to Wright’s heart is the Mental Wellness Alliance, which supports health and well-being in the community.
“Mental health is one of the toughest challenges out there, and in a short amount of time our community, working together, has dramatically decreased wait times for getting mental health services with increased accessibility and affordability,” she said. “That’s remarkable and something we should all be proud of.”
Wright is also proud of other programs such as the Women’s Giving Fund, which serves high-impact grants that benefit the area’s women and children, and the Solomon Fund that benefits organizations that work to increase Latinx participation in their programs.
“We’re committed to systemic change, and that takes deep collaboration and coordination, and none of the work we’re doing will have the depth of impact or enduring change if we don’t allow the people who are most impacted by these issues to be decision makers on how we solve those issues,” she said. “Also, people have to stay at the table for a long time and work through all sorts of barriers and challenges that come up. We have a long road to travel as an organization and community, and I’m very impressed at how our board and team are dedicated to this. I’m excited to see how that work continues beyond my tenure.”
Earlier this month, Wright oversaw her last Live PC Give PC, the Park City Community Foundation’s annual fundraiser for local nonprofits.
Although the 10th annual event was held in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, it shattered its previous record of 5,100 donors with just more than 6,000 donors, and it raised a record $3.4 million for Park City’s nonprofits.
“Every year I have been shocked by the generosity of this community, but I shouldn’t be, because Park City has shown over and over again how giving we are,” she said. “This year, in particular, when COVID has impacted our hospitality industry workers, the fact that people could dive even deeper to do what they can for their community members who have greater need really shows the spirit of this community. It is really wonderful.”
Wright said the things she’ll miss most are her staff and the board of directors.
“I am grateful to those who have stepped in to help make Park City Community Foundation into an institute of philanthropy that benefits all of us today, and far, far, far into the future,” she said. “It’s a privilege to come to work every day because the people I work with have great values, and they are fun to be around. The good thing is Park City is my home, and I’m not going anywhere. So I know those relationships will remain.”