The Park Foundation was formed in 1966. Its original focus was on education and grant-making in communities where Park Communications had interests. When he died in 1993, Mr. Park bequeathed more than 70 percent of his holdings to the Foundation.
The Foundation is dedicated to the aid and support of education, public broadcasting, environment, and other selected areas of interest to the Park family. Scholarship programs have been established in Mr. Park’s name at the two institutions with which he was so close — Ithaca College and North Carolina State University. The two scholarship programs emphasize academic excellence, leadership, and community service — in keeping with Mr. Park’s values. Public broadcasting is a particularly meaningful recipient of funding because the Foundation had its origin in the world of communications. More recently, the Foundation’s interest in environmental causes has been refined to focus on issues of freshwater and energy.
Mr. Park’s family continues an active involvement in the Foundation, with his daughter and granddaughter serving as trustees.
Roy H. Park, Sr.
Park Productions - Ithaca College Carol Jennings - Producer Randy MacLowry - Director & Editor
The Park Foundation was established by the late Roy Hampton Park, Sr. — founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Park Communications, Inc.
Roy H. Park was born in Dobson, North Carolina, in 1910. He graduated from high school at the age of 15 and entered North Carolina State University where he majored in journalism. While a student, he edited the school newspaper, The Technician. He worked his way through college by holding various office jobs, one of which was in the Associated Press Bureau in Raleigh where he made connections with people throughout North Carolina.
After college, he secured a public relations and advertising position with the North Carolina Cotton Growers Cooperative Association. He was later hired by H. E. Babcock, founder of the Grange League Federation (now Agway) to head the cooperative's advertising agency, located in Ithaca, New York.
In 1949, Mr. Park launched a business relationship with famed restaurant expert Duncan Hines. The first product of Hines-Park Foods was the Duncan Hines Cake Mix, the first product of its kind and one that began a revolution in food preparation. Procter & Gamble purchased the company in 1956, and Mr. Park launched his second career — mass communications. Ultimately, what became Park Communications, Inc. acquired or built 22 radio stations, 11 television stations, and 144 publications of which 41 were daily newspapers.
Mr. Park's influence in the communications industry was felt across the country, and his personal influence was especially felt in his home state of North Carolina — particularly at N.C. State University — and in his adopted hometown of Ithaca, New York — especially at Ithaca College.
Out of his spirit of giving back, Park worked closely with the North Carolina Commission on Literacy, the North Carolina State University Development Council, and served as a Trustee of the University from 1977 to 1985. He was the originator of the New York State Publishers Foundation and served as President of the Board of Trustees of Ithaca College for many years. The Park School of Communications at Ithaca College was named in his honor.
According to a memorial prepared by his alma mater, North Carolina State University, to honor his memory, Roy Park led his life by a simple tenet: "Look for opportunity more than security and stability. Consider the breadth of an opportunity and do your best."
Dorothy Dent Park
Dorothy Dent Park passed away on June 18, 2016. She served as President of Park Foundation from 1994 to 2010. In 2010 she retired as President and served as President Emeritus until her passing at the age of 103.
In the sixteen years that she led the Foundation it established major scholarship programs at Cornell University (Business), Ithaca College (Communications), North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Journalism). Both Ithaca College and North Carolina State University were affiliations of her husband and founder of Park Foundation, Roy H. Park Sr.
Under her leadership the Foundation provided early support to a range of public broadcasting projects including Nova and Nature, and has been a longstanding supporter of Ken Burns productions such as Jazz, and National Parks.
Mrs. Park also oversaw the Foundation’s major grants to local organizations in Ithaca, NY such as the SPCA, Tompkins County Public Library, Hangar Theater, and the Paleontological Research Institute. Her estate provided significant endowment contributions to both Park Scholars Programs.
Mrs. Park was well known for her whimsical and wry sense of humor, love of animals and her personal generosity to many causes and individuals.
Adelaide P. Gomer
Alicia P. Wittink
Jerome B. Libin
Jay R. Halfon
(New York, NY)
Hon. Donna F. Edwards
(Oxon Hill, MD)
William L. Bondurant
(Chapel Hill, NC)
Richard G. Robb
(Boca Grande, FL)
Park Foundation is a member of foundation affinity groups that provide information and networking to the Foundation’s staff and trustees for continuing development of its grantmaking programs. These affinity groups enhance staff and trustee understanding of issues and strategies, help identify innovative projects and foster collaboration among funders. Affinity groups that the Foundation is currently a member of include:
After a lengthy search process, the Park Foundation is thrilled to announce that Rachel Leon has accepted our invitation to join us as our new Executive Director. She has extensive experience in the areas that the Foundation focuses on: democracy, media, environment, social justice and sustainability. Her track record in these areas is impressive, and we welcome her to Ithaca and to the Park Foundation. “We are so excited to have Rachel Leon join us as our new Executive Director. She is an accomplished leader, an idea person, and a fighter for the causes that our Foundation represents. Her philosophy and experience will help magnify the difference we can make in the world," said Adelaide Gomer, President of the Park Foundation.
Rachel has held leadership positions for more than 25 years, most recently as the Executive Director at the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), a position she has held since 2009. EGA is comprised of over 230 diverse foundations. At EGA she managed a staff of 12, overseeing their financial operations, organizing annual retreats, and serving as their spokesperson in the press. One of the innovative achievements she helped create at EGA is a collaboration between EGA and the School for Environment and Sustainability at University of Michigan with Dr. Dorceta Taylor (now a professor at Yale University) launching a fellowship program to develop a new generation of environmental leaders.
Prior to EGA, Rachel worked as a Senior Program Manager at the JEHT Foundation on Participatory Elections. From 1997 to 2007 she served as the Executive Director of New York Common Cause. While there, she lobbied, organized, and tracked money in politics, created significant fundraising events and served as a spokesperson for the organization. During her 10-year stint there, she strengthened the New York Chapter, increased their budget, and led successful legislative efforts on local, state, and national levels.
Before Common Cause, Rachel spent six years at Hunger Action Network, as a lobbyist, advocate and then as Associate Director. Hunger Action Network addresses the root causes of hunger and poverty and advances economic justice and food security. While there, she was responsible for advancing their legislative and programmatic priorities and helped manage staff, finances, and infrastructure.
Rachel has a BA from SUNY New Paltz and an MPA from Baruch College graduating from both with Honors. She is a lifelong New Yorker and was born and raised in Schenectady, NY. She will begin at the Park Foundation on November 1st.
For questions, please contact: Amy Panek, Interim Co-Director/Senior Program Officer, at email@example.com