'I care deeply about education and our schools'
Tony Brauner, the new president of the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation board, offers insight into changes at the nonprofit organization
Tony Brauner and his wife, Shannon, came to Lake Oswego in 2007 so that their five children ages 13, 11, 9, and twin 6-year-olds could enjoy the benefits of high-caliber schools.
Since then, Brauner has worked hard to support local children and educators, five years ago joining the board of the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funding to support teachers salaries.
For the past two years, Brauner has served on the Executive Board, in 2014-15 as vice president. As of July 1, hes the boards president, stepping in for Kerry Griffin, who served in the top spot for two one-year terms.
I care deeply about education and our schools, Brauner says. Its just something Im very passionate about. I grew up in a household where my father was a teacher and a public educator.
As a brokerage manager who earned a bachelors in business management from Linfield College, Brauner knows financials experience that could prove crucial as the Foundation considers changes to its structure and formulates an investment strategy for its endowment.
Hes also a key figure in the search for a replacement for Sara Patinkin, who resigned as the Foundations executive director for personal reasons on June 30. The goal is to have a new leader for the Foundation this month.
Recently, The Review asked Brauner to share his thoughts about the Foundations future. Heres what he had to say:
How will your experience as a brokerage manager and your degree in business management help you to guide the Foundation at a time when growing the campaign and the endowment is so important?
We lived out of state from 2001 to 2007. When we returned to Oregon, where we are both from, we specifically sought out this community to live based on the quality of the education in the schools. In my position, I have knowledge about how people manage and transfer their wealth. My position gives me insight into what inspires people to make charitable gifts, and whats really important to people. Their children and their childrens education are always one of the most important things in their lives, and people are willing to give to maximize the quality of education.
What options could the Foundation board explore to further grow the organizations fundraising campaign and endowment?
We have a creative and hardworking board, a strong contingent of volunteers and a deeply committed school district and school board. We made some really strong progress the last couple of years mapping out our strategic vision, exploring ways to grow the Foundation, and weve had successful campaigns. The focus this year will be on hitting the $2 million mark. This is a very important number to hit for many reasons. Our school district continues to face unfunded state mandates and other funding constraints which, over time, will have a dramatic negative effect on the quality of education in our schools. In addition, building a strong endowment fund is the best way to ensure long-term stability to keep LO schools among the best not only in Oregon but in the nation.
Theres been talk that the Foundation may become its own entity. How could the structure of the organization change?
Weve been exploring ways to structure the Foundation to be as effective and strong as possible, and the school district has been a great partner in that effort. Like a lot of nonprofit foundations, the LO Schools Foundation maintains a strong partnership with the school district, but is also its own entity. We have discussed changing the staffing structure, and the district is supportive of finding the best and most effective way to maintain and grow our Foundation.
Whats the latest update on the search for a Foundation executive director, and what qualities are you looking for?
Weve had many strong applicants and are starting the initial screening process. We will look for candidates that have skill sets that match up with important aspects of the job, like fundraising, donor relations and budgeting.
How can people share their views on the direction of the Foundation; who should they contact and how?