Foundation News

The Golden Valley Community Foundation’s Board of Directors is a diverse group of 15 members, all committed to GVCF’s mission of using philanthropy, community initiatives and funding support to address the changing needs and interests of Golden Valley neighbors and friends.

As we work to get to know the community even better, we thought it would be helpful for you to get to know us a little better, too. Each month, we’ll introduce you to one of our board members.

Next up in our monthly installment of “meet a board member” is Luke Weisberg, a founding member of the Golden Valley Community Foundation. Read on to learn more as Luke reflects on the origin and evolution of one of Golden Valley’s favorite events, the Golden Valley Arts & Music Festival.

Luke Weisberg

I grew up in Golden Valley, and have now lived here as an adult for 17 years, raising my own family here.

I was first engaged by neighbors and friends who introduced me to the mission of the foundation and have been involved in the Golden Valley Community Foundation (GVCF) from its inception – dating back to the beginning of the Golden Valley Arts & Music Festival.

The festival grew out of a strong desire to have a community-wide event that drew together new families, current residents, businesses and others in Golden Valley. It’s an opportunity to “Visit in the Valley” with friends and neighbors, and enjoy a variety of activities, including live music, a parade, art for sale, kids’ games, a family creative space, and, of course, food and drink!

In decades past, Golden Valley hosted an annual Lilac Festival that was a unifying event for the city. In 2002, the city’s residents gathered to discuss a new, refreshed community festival. The result was the Golden Valley Arts & Music Festival. Now in its 14th year, the festival is a major community event that attracts thousands of attendees each year.

As a founding GVCF Board member, I have a strong commitment to ensure the organization continues to grow and thrive in three ways:

  1.  Broadening our visibility and awareness among residents as a Golden Valley organization to support;
  2. Strengthening our ability to serve residents as a grant-making organization; and
  3. Providing backbone support to other Golden Valley organizations and individuals to launch and grow their own initiatives and community activities.

I am always excited, moved and happy to connect with Golden Valley residents about their interests and ideas. I have been energized by the GVCF’s recent growth and look forward to continuing to be engaged in the foundation in the years to come!

To learn more about Luke, visit the GVCF Board of Directors bios.

Ron Blum

Ron Blum, a member of the Golden Valley Community Foundation and passionate advocate for community involvement and engagement. Following, Ron shares his thoughts on the importance of community-based activities.

“The noblest question in the world is: What good may I do in it?

The Golden Valley Community Foundation (GVCF) provided me with the opportunity not to just do good in the world, but specifically in Golden Valley, for my friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens.

At GVCF, we harness Golden Valley’s highly active citizens and organizations to give life to good causes.

One of the initiatives that I am most proud to be working on is neighborhood-level engagement activities. Golden Valley’s residential neighborhoods are a true gem in the west metro area, and their splendor comes from the strong ties of the neighbors that live there.

This month, I was proud to sponsor a Night to Unite (formerly known as National Night Out) event in my neighborhood, North Tyrol, like so many others across Golden Valley.

It is through promoting activities like these that GVCF board members help to inspire our fellow citizens, and together experience the joy of answering that noble question, what good may I do… in Golden Valley.”

 To learn more about Ron, visit the GVCF Board of Directors bios.

Dean Penk

Dean is a founding member of the Golden Valley Community Foundation and board member for Market in the Valley, which coincidentally (or not) just happened to open June 18!

GVCF: What made you want to join the GVCF board?

DP: Communities are important. We each make decisions every day about what communities we want to belong to for our families and ourselves. A community foundation is a perfect conduit for enhancing our community, building community support and leadership. It is a powerful force for engaging people in their community, providing a way for people to express their interests, passions and hopes for a place, a way of living and an identity now and long into the future.

The driving force for me in starting the foundation in 2011 was to provide our first ring suburban community the conduit to participate in enhancing our community as donors, volunteers and engaged persons participating and leading in the shaping of community. People engaged in a community work to nurture it. We become stewards for the community, for the shared experiences, places and image of our community. As our mothers might say, leaving it better than we found it. That is powerful. That is the goal.

GVCF: What interested you most about the organization?

DP: GVCF is a permanent non-profit resource for funding community development and initiatives that enhance life in Golden Valley and our neighboring areas.

I was first drawn into Golden Valley’s community engagement in 2007 as an outcome of the Golden Valley Envisioning process. Over 700 people expressed ideas that were collected, published and then compiled in a charter to keep those ideas visible. The results spoke clearly of our neighbors observations, goals, objectives and desires for their community of the future. Our group was asked to honor the charter and keep it relevant, engaging, and productive.

What was missing was a funding organization, a committed organization, a permanent conduit focused on addressing our community needs and goals, geographically and socially.

Community foundations (CFs) fill that void. CFs are a proven vehicle offering a broad range of avenues to enhance community. CFs offer every individual, organization and business an avenue to effectively invest in their community, to shape it and pay it forward both with short term funding donations as well as long term legacy gifts to fund needs, passions and opportunities that enhance future community experiences.

Among the west side suburbs, Golden Valley Community Foundation is that organization.

GVCF: What are your personal aspirations about serving on the board?

DP: The GVCF is focused on creating and building community. As a founder, I have two focus points. First, create a strong community foundation that convenes people and organizations to address community issues and opportunities. Second, create a permanent funding mechanism to support activities that grow our community. Activities include cultural and artistic awareness and livability for Golden Valley and our neighbors.

GVCF established broad programs and works collaboratively with other people and organizations to help address community needs. The GVCF funds foundation programs and provides support and grants through our active Small Sparks Grants program to groups and nonprofits that implement programs, initiatives and activities that meet the mission and vision of the organization.

One of our original Small Sparks was the Golden Valley Market in the Valley Farmers Market (MIV). That Market is now one of our successful non-profit partners. The market is an ideal family forum to meet neighbors, to eat healthy, to slow down, to learn. It encourages customers to come to a community gathering spot to shop, linger, buy quality local products, to talk and to observe over 16 weeks during the summer! It’s a perfect example of a volunteer-run effort, created by local residents to provide their community with an active resource of food, crafts, music and information.

While the Market in the Valley (MIV) is a separate nonprofit organization, it is a powerful ally of the GVCF for community engagement. Now in its seventh year, the MIV has been a successful forum to engage residents and neighbors on this entire west side. As a second year MIV board member, I am excited about our success in expanding the market. Just as the foundation does, MIV strives to understand customer’s perspectives on what is important to a successful market. Additionally, the special programming the market offers expands people’s knowledge and exposure to other experiences and issues that affect us all. This year we have seven special events on our 16 week calendar!

While the GVCF did not start the market, as individuals, we participate in the organization and as the community foundation, we are fully behind its complementary mission.

GVCF: Talk to me about the Market in the Valley.

DP: A farmers market is an historic, community-based activity. Our 16 week market provides significant opportunity to meet residents and better understand their expectations and hopes. As the market continues to gain popularity and commercial and social importance in our community, we learn more about our community. Of course, markets are not new! There is great value in learning from countries that have preserved a strong market culture throughout the last century. In these places, markets have remained central parts of people’s lives—they are the space in the city where culture and commerce invariably intersect.

By talking with other market managers locally, nationally and internationally, we strive to anticipate and deliver additional positive experiences to residents and visitors. This market, located in central downtown Golden Valley is not a chance decision. While not geographically central to Golden Valley, the location is a significant, identifiable part of the community, safe and accessible by auto, bike and foot. It is a center of Golden Valley commerce and helps encourage a vibrant downtown.

Consider that it takes a village to make a community. All our organizations and individuals like you, work together to make the community experience broad and appealing! We work to strengthen the west side experience and provide solutions to community needs.

Working with other nonprofits, volunteer organizations, businesses and with residents, the GVCF can provide exciting solutions that strengthen our community. As a community foundation, GVCF is ideally suited to fund these experiments and support them as they grow to be tried and true community experiences. I call them New Traditions.  We invite you to support us with annual donations, Legacy funding and certainly your valuable time and energy! We look forward to meeting you!

To learn more about Dean, visit the GVCF Board of Directors bios.

John Kluchka

John Kluchka is GVCF’s Secretary and Marketing team leader. Professionally, John brings 20 years of experience from the healthcare industry where he held multiple positions supporting communications, design, project management, sales, account management, R&D, product management, digital engagement and others. John’s passion for Golden Valley speaks for itself, as he tells us. 

GVCF: What made you want to join the GVCF board?

John Kluchka: I’ve been involved in neighborhood engagement and volunteering for many years, including leadership work with Envision Golden Valley and Golden Valley’s Planning Commission. I also participated in the Douglas Drive Corridor study and the Brookview Community Center Task Force. Along my path of civic participation, I’ve met many committed, thoughtful and compassionate individuals and families, both city-wide as neighbors, and city staff.

I joined GVCF in 2016 as an Executive Board member and Secretary as a way of translating my business and community experience into new community building opportunities. I lead our Marketing team and am always interested in meeting new recruits! I also volunteer with the Golden Valley Pride Festival as its co-chair, sponsorship coordinator and spokesperson.

GVCF: What interested you most about the organization?

JK: The Foundation is a young, grass-roots volunteer organization, and it’s ready to transform into a strong community builder. I loved the focus on supporting startup ideas to build community, and then seeing them through to long-term success. It’s a great opportunity to make a difference in how Golden Valley grows.

GVCF: What are your personal aspirations about serving on the board?

JK: GVCF’s roots are from one of my first experiences in volunteering in Golden Valley – the Envision Golden Valley project. That really inspired me to think about our community’s long-term opportunities, which became a natural launch pad into the Golden Valley Planning Commission where I’ve spent 12 years supporting the land use planning process. Now, new opportunities to build community are happening, and GVCF is a key driver of those – including Golden Valley Pride Festival, Market in the Valley, Arts & Music Festival and the new Golden Valley Arts League! 

 I proposed the launch of the Golden Valley Arts League (in partnership with GVCF) out of a pent up community need for supporting and growing the arts in our community. Art is everywhere and can enhance every person’s experience of our city and our sense of place. Plus, through the City’s new Public Art approach, GVAL helps to organize and manage new art in our community spaces.

 GVCF: You mentioned the GV Pride Festival – tell me more about it.   

JK: Golden Valley Pride Festival is headed into its second year on Saturday, June 11, at Brookview Park. We have so many wonderful activities planned, plus a wide variety of food trucks, live music, beer garden and so much more. The community has been impressively supportive, especially our sponsors and donors who help make this happen. Plus, our volunteer team is just a great team of GV residents who enjoy this opportunity to create unity in our community.

Be sure to stay updated on our website or on Facebook (GV Pride and GVCF). 

To learn more about John, visit the GVCF Board of Directors bios.

Linda Loomis

Linda Loomis is currently the principal of Naiad Consulting, LLC, and who served as the mayor of Golden Valley from 2002-2012.

GVCF: What made you want to join the GVCF board?

Linda Loomis (LL): The Foundation came out of Envision Golden Valley, which brought community members together to outline a shared vision for Golden Valley’s future, while I served as Mayor. I was approached by the GVCF Board once I was no longer Mayor. Since I had been an integral part of the Envision Connection Project, this seemed like a logical next step.

GVCF: What interested you most about GVCF?

LL: GVCF was an exciting next step for Envision. The Connection Project looked for people in the community with ideas to advance the goals of Envision – inspiring care for community and creatively connecting people, places, and things. We found many people with great ideas but who needed money to fund those ideas. The Foundation was created to provide funding for those people and their ideas. The Foundation teamed up with the Arts & Music Festival to form a non-profit foundation unique to the city of Golden Valley.

GVCF: What are your personal aspirations about serving on the board?

LL: It is so fun to see Small Spark grants happen. To see people with ideas about bringing community together transform their idea into reality is exciting! It would be so great to see more applications for grants come in and expand the program. It would also increase awareness of the Foundation and what a great asset it could become for the city of Golden Valley.

GVCF: Talk to me about Small Sparks grants. What are they? How do they help Golden Valley?

LL: Small Spark grants enable Golden Valley residents and neighbors to build community. Applicants submit an application to the Foundation for funding a project or event. 2017 will be the Foundation’s fourth year of funding grants. GVCF has funded almost $15,000 of projects since 2014. This has included:

  • Service night for Meadowbrook School, where the student body and their family came together do a number of projects for the local community and beyond.
  • Create mini orchards in Golden Valley was funded after a local resident, Margaret, Beegle (a member of the GV Garden Club), reached out to local schools and churches to plant fruit bearing plants. The goal is to harvest the fruit for use at the school or to share with others in the community.
  • Global Golden Valley has received a number of grants, to help fund events, including two International Days and the GV Farmers Market, Market in the Valley. They organized and hosted a naturalization ceremony in Golden Valley on the 4th of July and they have held several educational events in partnership with the GV Library and the GV League of Women Voters, where foreign-born GV residents shared their stories of coming to America.
  • A class from Armstrong High School also shared their experiences from an exchange to Japan.

Other efforts that have been funded include a fall golf event at Brookview Golf Course; Ghoulish Golf and music at Market in the Valley.

To learn more about Linda, visit the GVCF Board of Directors bios.