Heart & Soul Talks: How Storytelling Helps Foundations Build Better Communities

Storytelling is a powerful way to broadly engage a community and hear from voices that often go unheard. Hear how storytelling has brought residents together, bridged long-standing divides, and ultimately helped community foundations make positive, lasting, and meaningful impact. This free, 60-minute conversation is co-sponsored by Council on Foundations and Orton Family Foundation and focuses on storytelling in the Community Heart & Soul™ method of community development.

With guests Nancy Van Milligen, president and chief executive, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque in Iowa; Katherine Kreuchauf, president of the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation in Ohio; Jason Neises, Heart & Soul coordinator, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, and Monica Palmquist, a community organizer who served on her town's Heart & Soul Team in Cortez, Colorado. Hosted by Fran Stoddard of the Orton Family Foundation.



The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation

Kathy Kreuchauf is the President of The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation. She joined the Foundation in September of 2008 after heading the United Way of Delaware County for 11 years. She has presented at local, regional and national conferences on topics community leadership, advocacy and ethics. Under her leadership The Community Foundation launched successful initiatives to strengthen the local non-profit community’s board and staff leadership, as well as a unique partnership with the Orton Family Foundation to support the on-going economic and social viability of small towns. The Community Foundation was recognized in 2013 for outstanding programming by the Ohio Association of Nonprofit organizations. In 2014 the Foundation was recognized as the AFP/National Philanthropy Day Outstanding Foundation in Northwest Ohio. Kathy was the 2015 recipient of the Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Award.

In addition to serving on many local coalitions and task forces, Kathy is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Findlay Flag City Rotary Club and the Owens Community College Foundation board. She is a current member of the Toledo Opera Association board and a founding board member of Marathon Center for the Performing Arts. She is a member of the Northwest Ohio Chapter of AFP and has held the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential since 2004. Kathy has also served as Executive Director of the Epilepsy Association of Central Ohio, and Development Director for United Cerebral Palsy of Columbus and Franklin County. Kathy has seen the nonprofit world from many angles during her distinguished career of more than 28 years in nonprofit management. She received her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Political Science with Honors, and her Master of Public Administration degree from The Ohio State University.


Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque

Nancy Van Milligen joined the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque as its first president/CEO in 2003. Since then, she has helped to grow the Foundation’s charitable funds to more than $55 million and established it as a trailblazer in community leadership and engagement initiatives.

Van Milligen has established several successful community initiatives at the Community Foundation, including Every Child/Every Promise and the Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which bring together partners and resources to create better outcomes for youth.

Other initiatives include Project HOPE, a collaborative of local organizations to create employment and job training solutions, and Inclusive Dubuque, a strong network of local leaders focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Van Milligen serves as chair on the board of the Funders Network for Smart Growth. She has also served on the Council on Foundations (COF) Public Policy Committee and teaches the COF Public Policy for Community Foundations course. She also is involved in the D5 coalition, a national initiative focused on growing diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy. Van Milligen is a past president of the Iowa Council on Foundations. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Southern Illinois University (SIU) and received the SIU Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006.


Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque

Jason Neises is the Community Development Coordinator at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD). He works with rural communities in the Foundation’s six-county region to implement Community Heart & Soul, a planning and development process designed to increase participation in local decision-making and to empower residents to shape the future of their communities in a way that upholds the unique character of each place.

Originally from Dubuque, Neises has spent most of his career in adult education and working with nonprofits, including Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the Peace Corps. He volunteers in the community with the Dubuque County Historic Preservation Commission, Cub Scouts, Master Gardeners, the Dubuque Winter Farmers’ Market, and the Thomas Determan Global Perspectives Endowment.

Neises has an education degree from the University of Northern Iowa. He lives on a small farm north of Dubuque with his wife and two boys.


Monica Palmquist is from Cortez, Colorado, where she was an active member that community’s Heart & Soul project. She worked to engage the local Hispanic community, including translating, advising on culturally appropriate outreach strategies, and building on her relationships to help everyone feel welcome in the process.  Monica is currently championing the cause of policy change for the health and well-being of the Hispanic community in Montezuma County, Colorado, including advocating for school-based health clinics. She also hosts a wellness-focused program on her local public access television station.