Mary Walachy, Executive Director
When one begins learning about or working with the Irene E.and George A. Davis Foundation, the famous humility of theFoundation exemplified by it Trustees, John and Steve Davis,becomes strikingly and quickly obvious.
The casual observer might never know that the Davis Foundation is considered one of the largest family foundations in Massachusetts and that it is increasingly seen as a nation model in terms of its commitment to early education.
So, it should come as no surprise that when the Trustees identified the person they wanted to lead the Foundation as executive director they chose a person cut from the same cloth, Mary Walachy.
When reminded of the critical role she plays in the advancement of the Foundation’s ambitious agenda, particularly around its role in early education and care, she is quick to say; “It feels very uncomfortable for me to talk about my work here, because, after all, there are lots of people who play a role in our success.”
Not long after graduating with an M.S.W. degree from the University of Connecticut in Social Work Administration, Mary went to work as executive director of the Mental Health Association of Greater Springfield, managing a multi-million dollar organization with over 140 employees.
Hired in 1997 to manage the affairs of the Davis Foundation, Walachy’s responsibilities include development of the organization's strategic direction, general oversight of its administration, developing proactive and new funding initiatives, developing the Foundation’s funding and application guidelines and reviewing grant proposals.
But that's just what the resume says.
In truth, Walachy is the unassuming, effective, driving force for the Foundation and its agenda.That agenda has included the development of a niche as a leading funder in education and early education, specifically through creation of the Cherish Every Child Initiative in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Under Walachy’s direction, the Cherish Every Child Initiative has been a critical ally in the successful passage of universal Pre-K legislation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The initiative has also successfully engaged the workforce development and family literacy establishment in recognizing the long-term return on investments in early education.
Given her background in non-profit management, Walachy served as a driving force in the Davis Foundation's establishment of a three-year capacity building grant making initiative for nonprofits in Western Massachusetts helping them expand their internal skill level in the areas of finance, strategic planning, technology and business case development.
Walachy has also directed the Foundation into new areas of collaboration including the CAN DO initiative launched in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Hampden County Regional Employment Board to address the critical nursing shortage in Western Massachusetts.
She also was a critical voice in the establishment of a Hispanics in Philanthropy three-year initiative designed to build capacity of Hispanic-serving organizations. Guiding the collaboration with the Lumina, Balfour and Boston Foundations, her voice was critical to the establishment of the Achieving the Dream Initiative designed to address community college retention and graduation.
Under her direction, the Foundation has received national recognition for its work, including a feature in the National Center for Family Philanthropy and in the Council on Foundations' book "The Giving Family".
Named the 2005 "Woman of Distinction" by the Pioneer Valley Girl Scout Council, Walachy is active and engaged in community work beyond her role at Davis:
* Co-Chair - Homes Within Reach - City of Springfield Plan to End Homelessness
* Member, Board of Directors & Exec. Comm., Springfield Chamber of Commerce
* Trustee & Member of Coord. Council, PV Planning Comm.-Plan for Progress
* Member, Grantmakers in Education
* Member, Grantmakers for Children Youth and Families
* Member, Steering Committee, Massachusetts Early Education for All Campaign
What Walachy is most known for, however, is the humble determination with which she has helped establish the Davis Foundation as a leading philanthropic organization both locally, statewide and increasingly on the national scene.
Sally C. Fuller, Project Director
Ms. Fuller has spent her career in marketing and advertising and her non-working hours as a volunteer for non-profits doing fundraising, marketing, capacity-building, and generally, whatever has needed to be done! The organizations she has worked with in the Greater Springfield area range from WGBY, Public Television for Western Massachusetts to Girl Scouts to Springfield School Volunteers to the Springfield Day Nursery to the Greater Springfield Mentoring Partnership to local colleges.
She has been involved in the promotion of and funding administration for volunteer programs on a state-wide level as a director of the Massachusetts Service Alliance.
She continues to enjoy her weekly lunches with a "lunch buddy" from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County.