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Williamsburg Health Foundation Names Deanna Van Hersh as New President and CEO 

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., March 8, 2023 – Deanna Van Hersh, a visionary leader in grantmaking and program management, has been named the new President and Chief Executive Officer, by the Williamsburg Health Foundation Board of Trustees. She began her new role on March 6.

Van Hersh succeeds Carol Sale, who recently retired after leading the Williamsburg Health Foundation for five years.

The extensive search led to an internal staff member with an impressive career background to carry out the strategic goals and mission of the Foundation.

“The Board of Trustees is delighted to name Deanna as the President and CEO,” said Chairman Beth Davis. “Her accomplishments and leadership skills coupled with her philanthropic experience makes Deanna the perfect person to lead the Foundation’s efforts to provide healthy options and lifestyles for those living in the Greater Williamsburg area.”

Van Hersh is not new to the Williamsburg Health Foundation; she most recently served as the Director of Health and Wellness where she led the grantmaking for Advanced Primary Care, Medication Access, Integrated Care, and the Foundation’s increasing focus on the needs of older adults. She managed over $2 million in grants and contracts; including oversight of the Greater Williamsburg Chronic Care Collaborative, which works to strengthen the area safety net. In addition to her Foundation expertise, Van Hersh is equally dedicated and involved in several professional organizations, including the Virginia Funders Network, Grantmakers in Health, and Grantmakers in Aging.

Prior to joining the Williamsburg Health Foundation, Van Hersh spent 23 years with the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) culminating with roles of Interim Executive Vice President and Vice President for Programs. As the Vice President for Programs, Van Hersh was credited with leading a grant-making staff to devise, implement, and evaluate $20 million in grants each year, focusing on healthy behaviors, access to care, civic and community engagement, and educational attainment.

“The Board of Trustees is confident that Deanna’s impressive track record of identifying opportunities, building partnerships and her high level of integrity and respect for others will serve to advance the Foundation’s mission to inspire collaboration, encourage innovation, and commit to investing in systems that improve the health and well-being of individuals in the community,” said Davis.

“I am honored by this opportunity to lead the Williamsburg Health Foundation,” said Van Hersh. “And I look forward to collaborating with community partners, this dedicated staff and Board of Trustees to work toward a shared vision of health opportunities for all.”

The Williamsburg Health Foundation has a corpus of over $135 million and distributes an average of $5 million in grants annually in the Greater Williamsburg area. The Foundation also convenes agencies to address health-related challenges that cannot be solved by one organization or sector alone. For more information on the Williamsburg Health Foundation, visit

Williamsburg Health Foundation Announces Grants for December 2022

On December 5, 2022, the Board of Trustees of the Williamsburg Health Foundation (WHF) approved 13 grants worth nearly $700,000 for local organizations that improve the health of the Greater Williamsburg community.  “These recent grants raise the total of grants awarded by the Foundation over the past 25 years to over 100 million dollars,” said Carol L. Sale, President & CEO of WHF. 

            “This is an important milestone for the community,” said Sale. “It represents careful stewardship by current and past trustees and staff to make sure this community asset grows while distributing critical funds to improve the health of our community.”

            In this latest round of grants, the emphasis has been on children’s mental health. “In our community, our commonwealth, and our nation, there is a mental health crisis, especially a children’s mental health crisis,” said Allison Brody, director of community engagement.  “This made our program team take a hard look at ways to help more young people.”  

             “One thing we do is to try to disrupt the cycle of family violence which traumatizes children,” said Brody, referencing a grant to the Center for Child and Family Services. “We granted money to support Bacon Street Youth and Family Services to provide individual and family counseling services to clients experiencing mental health and substance use issues.”

            WHF increased its support of Postpartum Support Virginia and its program Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies which it provides in partnership with Child Development Resources and their Motherhood program.

             The Foundation also continues to support community understanding of trauma and its many lifelong repercussions through the

Greater Williamsburg Trauma Informed Community Network, or TICN, which is administered by United Way.

            “We are also helping children mental health in the simplest way of all – getting children out to play,” said Sale.   In the past few years, WHF has given small grants of $20,000 to Virginia Legacy Soccer to provide soccer to the community in various ways, including, most recently, offering it free of charge through the James City County Department of Recreation.  Participation in the soccer program has exploded.  It has gone from a couple hundred participants to over 700 in the last season. 

            Virginia Legacy Soccer Club estimates that 1,000 children will participate in the recreational soccer league each soccer season, and it just received $80,000 to support their play, “So much of what makes a child healthy emotionally and physically is having the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, so we see a diverse group of children taking advantage of this opportunity,” said Brody.   

For full listing of grants click here >>>

Give Generously and Impactfully

National Philanthropy Day was November 15. Giving Tuesday falls on November 29. Let’s start the month of November by myth busting around nonprofits and “the overhead myth.”

On Thursday October 27, 2022, the Williamsburg Health Foundation (WHF) hosted its annual awards breakfast about “Doing Good Better: Nonprofit Capacity Building.” WHF describes capacity building for a nonprofit as “strengthening internal structures, systems and processes, management, leadership, governance” and more.

As part of the event, WHF produced a video about the Overhead Myth. As the video explains, there is a cultural assumption that nonprofits should not spend money on sustaining and growing the organization.

Doing Good Better: Nonprofit Capacity Building

          On Thursday, October 27, 2022, Williamsburg Health Foundation presents its 2022 Annual Award to NetworkPeninsula, a nonprofit serving other nonprofits to increase their capacity to effectively achieve their missions now and in the future. The theme of the annual awards breakfast is Doing Good Better: Nonprofit Capacity Building.

         “Williamsburg Health Foundation recognizes NetworkPeninsula because of its service to and advocacy for nonprofits and the work they do,” said Carol L. Sale, President and CEO of Williamsburg Health Foundation.

         NetworkPeninsula launched in 2007 as NetworkWilliamsburg with 11 nonprofit members. Today, NetworkPeninsula’s programs have reached more than 300 nonprofits with multiple opportunities including staff and board trainings, a grants database, networking and peer-to-peer groups, as well as items donated by local businesses and individuals.

         “The health of a community and those who live in it is a shared responsibility,” said Sale. “In Greater Williamsburg, few things are as critical to the health and well-being as the capacity of our nonprofits to meet the needs of residents.”

         “Nonprofits in our community do good every single day.  They care for all of us and help us to care for our neighbors now and in the future. What we call ‘capacity building’ helps them do good and do it better,” said Allison Brody, who leads WHF’s capacity-building work. “Helping organizations become stronger and more effective both as an individual agency and when working together in community with others, is part of WHF’s strategic work.”

         The Williamsburg Health Foundation builds organizational and community capacity as part of its strategic approach to grantmaking.   “We offer different opportunities for organizations to learn and grow and to work together more effectively,” said Sale.  “NetworkPeninsula is an important partner in this work.”

         WHF produced five videos for this event.  Three short videos of less than two minutes each explore WHF’s capacity-building programs. One video explains what nonprofits call, “the overhead myth,” the cultural assumption that nonprofits should not spend money on their own infrastructure and development. All of those videos are available at WHF’s YouTube channel.

         “At the health foundation, we work hard to dispel the overhead myth.  For this reason, we are happy to shine a spotlight on capacity building,” said Sale.

Carol L. Sale, RN MSN informed the WHF Board of Trustees and staff that she plans to step down as President and CEO

At the end of August 2022, Carol L. Sale, RN MSN informed the WHF Board of Trustees and staff that she plans to step down as President and CEO of the Williamsburg Health Foundation at the end of this calendar year due to family health concerns. “It has been my privilege to serve the Greater Williamsburg community in this role and I look forward to watching the growth and good work of this Foundation as it continues to improve the health and well-being of those living in our community in partnership with so many dedicated nonprofits and other organizations”. The Board of Trustees has formed a Search Committee and will be posting the position to accept applications from prospective candidates in the coming weeks. Please check back for further information on this process.