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Business Observer Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021 2 months ago

Foundation CEO is determined to make long-term systemic change

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Teri Hansen grew up with the passion to help others instilled in her. It shows in her work.
by: Amanda Postma Sarasota-Manatee Editor
When Teri Hansen was brought on as president and CEO of the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, she knew she was going to tackle big things.    “Money helps, but it’s not really what makes the change,” she says.    Created in 2014 by philanthropists Charles and Margery Barancik, the Sarasota private family foundation has $487.04 million in assets — and is growing that quickly. It works with a host of partners to address challenges in education, humanitarian causes, arts and culture, the environment and medical research that impact the Sarasota community. The organization has grown and matured since Hansen took the position in 2015, including adding staff members and increasing assets.    Part of the added assets came after the founding couple died in 2020 following a car accident on Longboat Key. A donation of nearly all of their wealth was made to the foundation upon their passing. Hansen says the funds will be available by the end of next year. At that point, the foundation’s assets will be worth about $700 million. 

'Some foundations sit on the money. We try to be responsive.' Teri Hansen, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation 

  “That’s seven- or six-fold from what we were,” she says. In addition, the growth has allowed Hansen to broaden the scale of the foundation’s work. Her overarching goal with the foundation? Work toward long-term systemic change. “We don’t want to put Band-Aids on things,” she says.    When Hansen, for example, saw Florida holds the infamous title of having the highest number of children aged three and under being removed from homes for six years in a row, she didn’t sit idly by.    The first thing she did was ask questions —one of her hallmarks of facilitating change in any organization or situation. “What are the root causes?” she says. “How can we help or change this?”    Then she involved Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto counties to get to the bottom of the situation, following another changemaking hallmark: collaboration.     “That’s the kind of work we like to do,” Hansen says, noting the foundation works on grants and initiatives, but that’s not the only work the team focuses on.    Something like this type of change requires interviews, research and data collection. Then Hansen brings in partners and they go over the findings together. “We figure out what can be done,” she says.    Hansen credits her parents for why she’s passionate about her work today. “I didn’t really know any different,” she says.    Growing up, she remembers helping her father load up the family station wagon with food, clothes and other essentials and driving to Tijuana. When they arrived, her father would open up the supplies to children living around there. They did this at least once a month.    “That’s just what people did,” she says. “It’s part of being in a community or society.”   When Hansen discovered the Barancik Foundation she had been at the helm of the Venice-based Gulf Coast Community Foundation, one of the largest community foundations in Florida, for over a decade. But she rather quickly embraced the Barancik Foundation opportunity. “I knew their values and that matched with mine,” she says.    Those values and passion have led to a 30-year career working in the foundation business. Her father used to tell her the old saying, “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”   Hansen loves that she can confidently say she’s never worked a day in her life. “It just fits what and who I am,” Hansen says. “I’m privileged to be in a position where the work I do makes a difference.”    Of course, not everything has gone according to plan in her career.   “The biggest mistake is thinking I could, in fact, change the world,” she says.    One big example? Hansen previously sought to make it easier for families to access Medicaid. She contacted Medicaid insurance providers to learn more and find out what she could do to change it. But every time she got someone interested in helping, they would leave their position. Turnover was just that high, Hansen says. This went on for 18 months.   “It was like trying to catch a fly with your hand,” she says. “It was a mistake thinking we could tackle something like that.”   As a philanthropic organization, the Barancik Foundation has the resources and tools to change the world — or at least greater Sarasota. But Hansen says those are wasted without the experts and partners involved. That goes back to her ideal that sustainable change requires a commitment to collaboration."We connect everything we do so there is no one-off,” she says. “Every grant is connected.”   At one point, for instance, one of the nonprofits the foundation partners with was in need of a thermometer. As the connecting puzzle piece, the Barancik Foundation was able to connect that nonprofit with another organization that had the thermometer.    Connections like that help put the foundation under the community spotlight — a place Hansen and her team relish, now with a heightened sense of urgency given the increase in funding. "Some foundations sit on the money,” she says. “We try to be responsive.”

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