Jenkins to retire from Cherokee Preservation Foundation at years-end

by Apr 19, 2012Front Page, NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments




     Susan Jenkins, executive director of Cherokee Preservation Foundation (, has announced her retirement to the board and staff of the Foundation, effective Dec. 31.  

Susan Jenkins, executive director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation for its entire 10-year existence, is set to retire at years-end. (CPF Photo)

     Cherokee Preservation Foundation is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2012 and it has been an eventful 10 years under Jenkins’ leadership.  Working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and neighbors in the surrounding seven-county region, the Foundation has served as a grant-maker, partnership broker and convener to achieve cultural preservation, economic development and environmental preservation goals.  As a result of strategies developed and pursued with community members, progress has been made in culture-based leadership development, Cherokee language revitalization, cultural tourism, revitalization of Cherokee’s business district, regional entrepreneurship, financial literacy of Cherokee youth, regional education, perpetuation of Cherokee artistic traditions and sustainable practices.

     “Dr. Susan Jenkins has been instrumental in developing the Foundation’s infrastructure, creating a grant-making program, developing and refining the Foundation’s strategic focus, building partnerships within the community, and mentoring local staff members to ready them for leadership positions,” said Luke D. Hyde, chairman of Cherokee Preservation Foundation’s Board. “Thanks in large part to her efforts, the Foundation has had a significant impact on our community and the region.” 

     Since the Foundation’s inception, it has made 731 grants totaling more than $58 million to EBCI and regional projects and programs. With matches in funding or in-kind resources, its total contribution to the region has amounted to nearly $150 million.

     “Working with the Foundation’s wonderful staff and board members, EBCI members and others in our region dedicated to improving the quality of life on the Qualla Boundary and in the surrounding counties has made the past 10 years very special for me,” said Jenkins.  “I will leave at the end of the year knowing the Foundation is strong in all ways and prepared for new accomplishments under its next leader.”

     After her retirement, Jenkins plans to stay in the region and undertake some projects on behalf of indigenous people as well as philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, and she will also spend more time traveling and working in her garden. 

     An enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation (Oklahoma), she joined Cherokee Preservation Foundation in January 2002, coming from the Hitachi Foundation, where she had been Senior Program Officer.  Previously she was with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she helped establish a partnership between 55 Delta communities in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and the Kellogg Foundation.  She has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Georgia.

     A Transition Committee will lead efforts to plan for a smooth transition and to search nationally for a new executive director for the Foundation.