Foundation News

Ruth Nicholson Award: Bill Bridges

The Ruth Nicholson Award is the highest honor presented by the Community Foundation each year and honors the volunteer who has made significant contributions to the Greenville community through volunteer work for the Community Foundation or to one of its projects, programs, or areas of emphasis. The award is named in honor of Ruth Nicholson who was known for her tireless volunteer work for the Community Foundation.

What’s next? Those among us who ask this question and don’t stop at the easy answers are more valuable than they know. Bill Bridges is one of these people. While nonprofit leaders who’ve worked with him will point out his immense expertise, Bridges tends to dwell on what it is he doesn’t know.

Bridges retired as a senior vice president after 30 years with Bank of America, then led grants administration and handled the investment portfolio at The Graham Foundation. Yet he modestly claims to bring only “some financial knowledge” as a board member and recently elected chair of the Conestee Foundation. 

By contrast, David Hargett, executive director of Lake Conestee Nature Park, says Bridges’ financial and business acumen have been uniquely valuable to helping the nonprofit navigate complex relationships. 

As an adjunct instructor of finance at Furman University, Bridges feels his job is to point students toward resources beyond what he can offer in the classroom. Each new class session is a happy reminder of what he’s yet to learn himself.

“Most of the time what I try to bring is a sense of looking beyond just today,” says Bridges. 

“Where are we headed? What is our focus and longer-term goal? I try to bring a sense that today is important, but we’ve got to consider tomorrow and the next day, and the next day.”

That is, he encourages everyone around him to ask, “What’s next?”

“Bill Bridges has been an excellent board member for the Community Foundation. His experience as a former banker and foundation manager has been invaluable to the investment committee. Bill is a trusted resource for many nonprofits that seek his guidance.” – Bob Morris, President, Community Foundation of Greenville

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