Sandi Scannelli hits the ground running as first president/CEO of Clemmons Community Foundation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2018

By Marc Pruitt
For the Clemmons Courier

Sandi Scannelli doesn’t get the chance to sit still very often in her new office space in the Broyhill Building.

Since being named as the first president and CEO of the Clemmons Community Foundation on April 1, Scannelli has been busy meeting, greeting and making connections in an effort to establish lasting relationships that will benefit the community for generations to come.

Scannelli moved to the area last fall after serving in similar roles in Brevard County, Florida, as well as in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for a number of years.

“This is such an extraordinary opportunity,” Scannelli said. “I’m really privileged to have opportunity to have a heightened presence in the community to be able to do more. I have a lot to learn, being that I’m new to the area. People have been so warm and welcoming in sharing history and perceptions and really, to help teach me about the area. My hope is that through all that I’m learning, I’m hearing all these pieces of information and bringing a fresh set of eyes to these experiences that can help connect dots. I can see why people have lived here all their lives.”

The Clemmons Community Foundation was founded in 2004 as the Clemmons Rotary Foundation and was converted into a separate body in 2011. It operated with a volunteer board of directors until Scannelli began in April.

“They saw an opportunity and need to have a foundation with a long-term interest in serving the philanthropic interests of the community that went beyond the Rotary” Scannelli said. “They are an outstanding group of people with a lot of energy who have an eye for the community and its broader interests and what helps make it vibrant. And part of my job is to ensure that the community takes a look a philanthropy and the ways it enhances the health and vibrancy going forward.”

Scannelli has helped to spearhead several initiatives already while identifying several primary needs, living up to the foundation’s tagline of ‘unlocking the full philanthropic potential of Clemmons and Lewisville.’

“That’s our goal,” she said. “Building those assets.”

One of the first grants she helped facilitate involved a Summer Learning Academy held at Ward Elementary school for 50 kids in partnership with the Jerry Long YMCA.

“They had never had one before and it was a great way to engage families in the community,” Scannelli said. “It was a five-week program and a great resource and for those parents and their kids.”

The CCF has provided more than $51,000 in grants to support community programs since Scannelli started, included funding for programs that support Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Brenner Children’s Hospital, integrating teacher training for the arts in local schools through The Arts Council, parenting classes and programs, and animal care programs, among others.

“We want to stay ahead of any indicators that illustrate the fraying of the community fabric and do all we can to make sure the infrastructure of things that are normally supported by philanthropy stays right here,” Scannelli said. “That may mean arts and culture, education support, basic emergency care, child programs, animal welfare…”

Scannelli has identified three primary areas that she feels the CCF can provide resources and assistance in facilitating.

“We have a few things we are currently focusing on,” she said. “First, we talked to school social workers to help us identify what is going on with kids and families. The things they are seeing are no different than in most other places — high anxiety levels, lots of behavioral health issues, suicide attempts, depression. Some of the challenges in that is technology. Are we doing enough to develop those interpersonal relationships that provide a support system? More so than technology to enable young people to cope? What are we doing about that?”

Scannelli and the CCF will host a forum on Thursday, Aug. 15, from 3-4 p.m. at the Broyhill Building that will bring together social workers, parents, and civic and faith-based leaders to address those concerns and try to determine reasonable solutions.

“We look forward to sharing some of the things they are seeing and figuring out what ways those organizations can help that go beyond providing food and supplies and how that enhances the relationship building and the support structure,” she said.

The CCF, in collaboration with the Clemmons/Lewisville Chamber of Commerce, is also in the process of establishing a leadership program for residents in the area along the same lines as the highly successful Leadership Winston-Salem initiative.

“More than 100 Clemmons residents have trained in that program and the Chamber is taking ownership of establishing something like it here,” Scannelli said. “We want some of the people who trained there to help us develop a similar program that can have a positive impact on our future leaders and their commitment to the community.”

Scannelli is also interested in establishing a family resource center.

“We are exploring the feasibility of that now because we don’t have a lot of place-based services,” she said. “It would be another outlet for people in need for various things.”

Further down the road, Scannelli is interested in having a Transfer of Wealth study commissioned to help her identify more pathways for community endowment.

“One of our roles is identifying serving our donors,” she said.  “We’re kind of like a philanthropic concierge. We want to serve the individuals who want to establish a fund in their name and at the same time, look at the community and understanding what the community needs. Then we lift up those opportunities for our donors and convening people around issues to energize a solution. We know our donors want to take care of their families, but we’d also like for them to think about creating endowments that can benefit the community. If we are able to inspire folks to leave behind money to benefit the collective community, imagine what we would be able to accomplish with our philanthropy down the road.”

“This is a huge honor for me,” Scannelli said. “I’m passionate about my work because I feel grateful for how communities helped shaped my life. We want to live up to the community expectations for making a difference right here. We want to dive fully into that and have a foundation that represents the best of what a community offers and one that involves everyone in having a love and a passion for where they live. We want them to really invest in the community and the neighbors and the resources that make a community rich.”