September Member Spotlight

Meet Jeffrey R. Pickering
President & CEO
Indian River Community Foundation

Jeffrey R. Pickering is a former catcher, veteran philanthropy executive, and lifelong surfer. He is a TEDx Speaker and published author of “Better at the Broken Places,” a powerful story he wrote to recover from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, to help other survivors, and to affect change in systems that continue to protect child sex abusers from prosecution.  He is married to Stephanie Brooks Pickering and father to Colin, Olivia, and Grant. 


What is your involvement with Florida Philanthropic Network? What influenced you to join?

"I am the chairman of the Community Foundations of Florida, a member network of FPN that represents 25 community foundations leading philanthropy throughout the state. I got involved with CFF in 2004 prior to FPN’s formation and have stayed connected over the years to learn about important matters related to philanthropy in our state and to build relationships with other leaders working to make Florida better."

Name one thing you find special about the Florida philanthropic community. 

"The Florida philanthropic community is made up of veteran leaders and newcomers who seem to embrace the rapid changes taking place within our state while respecting our heritage. Its fun to work together with colleagues who hold Florida classics like “A Land Remembered” or “The Everglades: River of Grass” in high regard, while also “nerding out” about subjects where Florida is leading into the future like agriculture technology, climate solutions, and outer space . . . to name a few."

Are there any partnerships or collaborations you have found most meaningful to you in the last year?

"I have been impressed by the strong network of diverse partners working to make the Florida Wildlife Corridor a permanent part of Florida’s natural landscape.  While our young, relatively small community foundation’s environmental grantmaking portfolio is mostly focused on local coastal conservation and improving the Indian River Lagoon, I believe efforts to make the Florida Wildlife Corridor a reality is an investment that can pay dividends in perpetuity."

What's the biggest challenge you've faced with your philanthropic efforts? How have you overcome them?

"As a community foundation serving a coastal resort and agricultural community with a seasonal population, keeping donors engaged in making long-term philanthropic investments is hard work.  Our “super power” comes from the innovative tools and resources we have developed to collect and share data and information about local community needs that help our clients to stay on top of the issues and practice more effective philanthropy.  Everybody says they want to see results from their giving, but our clients have confidence because we help them to prove it."

What fuels your cup- in life and at work?

"In life, it is time at the beach or in the ocean, watching or riding waves with my family.  At work, my colleagues and I are “all in,” but when the surf is up, we all take time for a “board meeting.”

Can you share one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a career in philanthropy?

"Learn how to be an expert listener and how to practice empathy.  The three most important words I use in my work as a trusted philanthropic advisor are “Tell me more.”  

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