RALEIGH, N.C. – With almost five years at the A.J. Fletcher Foundation under her belt, Deremia Johnson is taking on a higher-profile role with the Raleigh-based funder.
In her new position as director of administration and programs, Johnson will spend more time representing the foundation in the community, in addition to managing the foundation’s operations and grants process.
“Although we’re small in number, it’s an extremely busy place,” she says of the foundation’s three-person staff and year-round grant cycle.
In addition to overseeing the grant-application process, which includes managing the grants budget and conducting site visits, Johnson is in charge of maintaining contact with grantees throughout the course of the funding relationship, monitoring their progress and trouble-shooting when necessary.
She also manages the daily operations of the foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal. That includes working closely with the board, planning and managing foundation events and managing relationships with vendors.
“I’m involved in virtually everything that happens at the foundation,” she says. “It’s a high-volume job that requires a lot of juggling.”
Johnson joined the foundation shortly after Barbara Goodmon became its president, and the two have worked side by side since then.
“We’ve changed cultures and grown,” Goodmon says of the foundation over the past five years. “She’s been part of that evolution. I could not have done this without Deremia.”
In 2008, the foundation awarded about 40 grants totaling $3 million. But given the state of the economy, which has pummeled foundation endowments worldwide, the Fletcher Foundation likely will make no new commitments over the next couple of years, says Goodmon.
The foundation’s endowment stood at about $37 million at the end of 2007, but has dropped by more than a third in the recent market turmoil, she says.
The foundation will honor existing commitments, including a significant new funding relationship with Campbell University’s law school.
The foundation has awarded the school a $1 million challenge grant over four years to create the Goodmon Legal Clinic in downtown Raleigh.
The clinic will be named in honor of Goodmon and her husband, Jim Goodmon, who serves as chair of the foundation’s board.
The clinic, scheduled to open in the fall if 2009, will deal with social-justice issues, with its inaugural clinic focusing on the needs of low-income seniors, says Britt Davis, director of development for the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law.
And the law school recently received a $150,000 gift from Progress Energy, the first grant matching the Fletcher Foundation investment.
The Campbell award is the latest in Fletcher’s efforts to further social justice in the state.
The foundation also supports the North Carolina Justice Center’s work to promote progressive public policy, and has been a major player in efforts to create more affordable housing in the state through advocacy as well as funding for the North Carolina Housing Coalition.
Fletcher will continue its other long-term funding commitments, which include support for the Fletcher Opera Institute at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and the Fletcher Academy, a private school in Raleigh that serves children with learning disabilities.
“I appreciate the fact that Barbara has entrusted me with a huge responsibility,” says Johnson. “I welcome the challenges and plan on working diligently to uphold the great work of the foundation.”