Benedum Foundation Names Jennifer Giovannitti as President
PITTSBURGH (August 13, 2018) – A community development manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and nationally known policy expert on rural development strategies has been named the first woman president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. Jennifer Giovannitti, a Pennsylvania native who has worked extensively in West Virginia, will succeed William P. “Pat” Getty in mid-October.
Ms. Giovannitti, 48, currently leads strategic programs and community-based initiatives, most notably in community investment, human capital, and access to credit and capital, for the Fed’s Fifth District, which includes Virginia and West Virginia. She emphasizes the role of data-driven decision-making in regional projects. She formed the West Virginia Loan Fund Collaborative in 2012 to better understand the impact of small business lending in underserved communities. She has authored a variety of reports, publications and opinion essays. Before 2011, she served as chief executive of the Randolph County Economic Development Authority and directed the West Virginia Wood Technology Center, an adult technical training site. Between 1999 and 2003, she managed the successful redevelopment of the Elkins (WV) Rail Yard, which preserved historic structures, reconstructed a historic bridge, and added tourism infrastructure and public amenities. The project was a model for rural communities redeveloping brownfield sites, quadrupling downtown property values within four years and stabilizing the city core.
Ms. Giovannitti describes herself as “passionate about community development, innovation and the power of people.” She obtained her MA in Community and Regional Planning from the University of British Columbia, and her BA in Planning and Urban Studies from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993. She is a member of the steering committees for West Virginia Forward, a statewide initiative to advance the state’s economy, and the Appalachian Funders Network. She serves on the boards of directors of the University of Virginia’s Pay for Success Lab, the Richmond Region Planning District Commission, and BizWorks, a small business assistance program. She chairs two important work groups in the Richmond area, on workforce preparation for the Capital Region Collaborative and on Early Childhood Finance and Compensation statewide. She is a graduate of LEAD Virginia (2017) and Leadership West Virginia (2005). Early in her career, Giovannitti also worked with municipalities in western Pennsylvania in positions with the engineering firms of Mackin Engineering Company and Herbert, Rowland, and Grubic, Inc.
Giovannitti is a native of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. She is married to Jeremy Muller, who grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of Fox Chapel. The couple has three children.
Benedum board chair and former West Virginia State Senator, Lloyd Jackson, said, “I know I speak for all the Trustees when I say we are excited that Jen has agreed to become our next President. Her background gives her a deep understanding of the region the Benedum Foundation serves. Her experience in working with regional and national partners, such as the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a great benefit. It is impossible to replace Pat Getty, but we know Jen will be the true leader in her own right that the Foundation sought.”
Ms. Giovannitti succeeds William P. Getty, who has held the post since January 1, 1999. Mr. Getty, who has championed regional cooperation through projects including the Tri-State Shale Coalition and The Power of 32, will continue to serve the Foundation in the role of Regional Facilitator and will become an emeritus member of the board of trustees.
The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation was established in 1944 by West Virginia natives Michael and Sarah Benedum as a memorial to their only child, Claude Worthington, who died in 1918 at the age of 20. As of December 31, 2017 the Foundation had approximately $380 million in assets and distributed approximately $15 million in grants and program-related investments in 2017, primarily in West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania. Its grants support specific initiatives in education, economic development, health and human services, and community development. The Foundation recognizes that economic regions do not follow political boundaries, and, therefore, the Foundation encourages projects that cross state lines and supports economic and education initiatives that benefit the multi-state region centered on Pittsburgh.