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The Community Foundation Blog

Q&A with new board chair, Dr. Pamela Royal
By The Community Foundation / January 30, 2019
Q&A with new board chair, Dr. Pamela Royal

If you do not yet know Dr. Pam Royal, know this: when she takes something on, she is all in. This tour de force is a devoted wife and mother to four children, a business owner running a successful dermatology practice, and an exemplary community leader serving on numerous nonprofit and corporate boards. On top of that, she loves throwing parties, trying out new restaurants and taking in all that Richmond has to offer.

We are pleased to introduce you to Dr. Royal as our new board chairman, a role she will hold through 2020. Recently, we had the chance to ask her how she packs it all in and what fuels her optimism for our future. Here is a summary of our conversation:

What inspires you to give back?

I am very fortunate to have a legacy of parents who were very involved in the community. I was exposed at an early age to the importance of serving and giving back to the community in which I live and work. My own involvement began years ago when I was asked to serve on the United Way board. I joined because I had the time and I thought I had something to offer. Since then, I have never looked back.

I say yes when I believe I can bring something beneficial to the organization that I have been asked to join. I strive to grow and be more productive and impactful on behalf of the community. I hope I am an inspiration to the younger leaders especially to women and minorities.

As a lifelong Richmonder, how do you view the state of our region today?

Richmond still struggles changing the stereotype of the perception that it is old and conservative. Many don’t know until they get here that we have a rich history and culture that celebrates contributions of all its citizens. The region is young, innovative and edgy. We’re attracting millennials and new companies that further deepen our diversity and vibrancy.

At the same time, we still have high concentrations of poverty that keep people from reaching their potential. The Community Foundation has put a stake in the ground to start chipping away at some of the barriers. Our significant investments in areas like affordable housing, quality afterschool programs and a strong health care delivery system are intended to help break the cycle of poverty and maximize what everyone has to contribute.

What would you like people to know about the Community Foundation?

There is a perception that we are here to serve a limited number of people. It takes the expertise, belief and will of people from all backgrounds and perspectives to make a difference. When we use the collective strengths of people, data and research, we can continue this trajectory of deeper engagement and sustained impact. Our goal is to identify the most pressing human needs and weave them together with art and cultural vibrancy to strengthen our region. When we do that, we all benefit.

What gives you confidence about where we are today?

I am energized by our boldness as an organization. Not only are we stepping out and scaling up the work we are doing about meaningful change in a collaborative way, we are also holding ourselves and our partners more accountable. We are galvanizing others when we are not the best fit.

Philanthropy has a more permanent seat at the decision-making table with the emergence of the Capital Region Collaborative and other issue-based coalitions. Individually and collectively, there is a willingness to figure out what it takes to move the needle. That may mean trying new strategies and measuring the impact to ensure the return on investment is what we promised. When it is not, we will adjust and try again.

What does the Community Foundation need to do to remain a dynamic force for change?

We understand that we must energize and mobilize people and institutions who want to do good. There is more competition for the business of philanthropy today than ever before. It pushes us to sharpen our message of who we are, who we are working with and for, and what we can deliver. As we move forward, we are committed to consistently reporting our progress to our partners and donors who want to become more actively involved. They want to know how they are making a difference.

Richmond has been an incredible giving community through the years. That’s why the Community Foundation is what it is today. But we also know in order to grow and be even better at delivering on the promise of improving lives, we must build on this notion of partnership. We are embracing the new and emerging faces of philanthropy with affinity groups like young people, women and minority philanthropists. We are working across sectors.

What is your approach as a board leader?

I attempt to inspire by my vision, passion and work ethic. I assemble a board team that can execute on the promise delivered to stakeholders.

I am a listener. Listening keeps me sensitized and focused. I am incredibly disciplined, and I follow through. More than anything, I always strive for excellence.

What do you do for fun?

This year, my husband and I will celebrate our 33rd anniversary. With our four (mostly) adult children out in the world, we have a healthy balance in our professional and personal lives. I couldn’t be happier.

Together, we love collecting art, hitting the local restaurant scene and enjoying time away at our river home in the Northern Neck or at the eastern Caribbean island of Mustique. I enjoy fashion, I dabble in decorating, and I love to dance. My next goal is to learn to play golf.

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