Susie Russell is honored for her service as executive director of the Community Foundation of Chaves County at Pecos Valley Winery, Thursday. Mark Wilson Photo
Members of the community gathered Thursday night at Pecos Flavors Winery to thank Susie Russell for more than nine years of service as executive director of the Community Foundation of Chaves County, which officially closed its offices Wednesday.
Alan Applegate, CFCC board president, said that trying to put in words what Russell has meant to Chaves County for the better part of a decade “would take a book.”
“I wouldn’t even know where to start, she has done so much,” Applegate said. “You know, you can’t take Susie anywhere because she knows everybody. She’s just an absolutely super person, and we’re all very sad that she couldn’t continue on.”
Also in attendance was Mayor Del Jurney, who said he has long been a great admirer of everything Russell and CFCC have accomplished over the years. He lauded the many skills it takes to make fundraising work well, from grant-writing to the process of evaluating applications.
“Susie’s one of those gems that the city of Roswell is so proud of,” he said. “The contributions she’s made to the community as a whole, and in particular, to the nonprofit agencies, helping them fund specific projects and programs that it’s so hard to get the resources for, her direction as the leader of the Community Foundation has just been priceless.
“She does it with a smile, she does it with energy and with enthusiasm. We appreciate all she’s done.”
Russell, who moved to the area from southern California more than 30 years ago, said her time as CFCC executive director has led her to many friends and colleagues.
“I’m overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support that I’m getting from our community. And it’s mutual, believe me,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every moment of being the executive director of the Community Foundation.
“The highlights are so many. Just working with various people in the community, helping those in need has been just a highlight of everything because that’s what this business is about, and what my heart is about in charitable giving.”
Russell said she is happy with what CFCC was able to accomplish in its time, including the amount of money raised and the organizations that benefited. She said she is hopeful that even though the office is closing, others in the community will rally to carry on the work and mission of CFCC.
Applegate said Ritter & Company has volunteered to keep the 501(c)3 charter afloat, and that there are still some monies left over that will go back to the community as early as next week. He said most of the monies held for other 501(c)3 organizations will go back to those entities, and that much of the funds that will not go back to its original source will go to the Eastern New Mexico University Foundation.
Russell said she’s excited about whatever comes next for her. Russell worked for Roswell Chamber of Commerce prior to CFCC, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and experience in marketing and public relations.
“I’m saddened, but I’m looking forward to the future, and what that brings,” she said. “I’m going to be moving on to something different, but it might be a lot better. You never know.”