by Kym Byrnes, photography by Nikola Tzenov

The world may have been on pause for much of the spring, but that didn’t stop the important charitable work taking place at the Community Foundation of Carroll County. For just over a quarter-century Audrey Cimino has been at the helm, steering the organization through startup challenges and tremendous growth. In March, Cimino handed off leadership of the organization to Jacie Mathias-Jones, who has worked at the foundation since 2007. 

The vision of a county-wide organization that would oversee and initiate philanthropic activities in Carroll became a reality in the mid-1990s when Cimino, a vice president and development officer at Carroll County Bank and Trust, took over the newly formed Community Foundation of Carroll County. Cimino has worked with thousands of people to build hundreds of local funds and scholarships in her 25-plus years running the foundation. 

“The number of volunteers, programs, people and scholarships that she has touched is amazing, especially because she isn’t a Carroll County native,” Mathias-Jones said. “She embraced Carroll County when she came here, even though it wasn’t her hometown, and she’s put a lot of love and hours and years into this community.” 

Cimino said that she will definitely miss the interaction with people and the ability to help people create something brand-new, something that helps others and often honors a loved one. 

Cimino said she loved the experience of having someone walk into her office with big ideas for a charitable organization, with no idea how to achieve success. She said what followed was helping them through the process of understanding what they had to think about and do in order to achieve their goal. 

“It takes imagination and the ability to be flexible and to pivot to be successful,” Cimino said. “The creativity involved in that is incredibly rewarding, to figure something out that someone else thought couldn’t be done, to create something brand-new from just an idea.” 

Mathias-Jones has worked at the Community Foundation for 13 years, most recently overseeing daily operations and managing programs and services provided by the organization’s funds. She said that the leadership transition couldn’t have come at a weirder time, in the middle of a global pandemic, but said that the organization has rolled with the changes and she is looking towards a bright future for the organization.

“We’re building on the past and always learning, but I’m super excited about the future,” Mathias-Jones said. “It’s a great time to embrace change, we’re looking ahead and are ready to move forward.” 

Mathias-Jones said that of all the emotions she’s feeling around the transition and the chaos happening in the world at the time of the transition, pride is what resonates the strongest. She said she has felt a tremendous amount of support from everyone including the office staff, the board of directors, clients and the community. 

“This could have been catastrophic for a lot of people because of the number of funds and programs we support,” Mathias-Jones said. “But the transition was smooth and we have continued our work through coronavirus changes because we all pulled together. I’m just extremely proud to be a part of that.” 

Cimino is officially retired, but will continue to consult at the foundation as needed. The Community Foundation of Carroll County manages $7.5 million dollars in endowments, operating funds, scholarships, programs and funds. 

“I have complete confidence in Jacie,” Cimino said. “She’s very well trained and extremely bright.”