Dick Crockett, longtime executive director of the Edina Community Foundation, offers reflections upon his retirement.
This past March, a familiar presence in the Edina community turned to a new chapter in his civic life. Dick Crockett retired after 20 years as the executive director of the Edina Community Foundation. Under his leadership, he helped shape the organization into the wide-reaching, diverse nonprofit it is today, with programs like Edina Reads, the annual Edina 4th of July Parade, Community Impact Program, Connecting with Kids and more.
The foundation was founded in 1977 as a partnership between the City of Edina and Edina Public Schools; following its conversion to an independent community foundation in the early 2000s, the board put out a notice for an executive director. Crockett answered the call. “I’d been a lawyer, practicing higher education law for 34 years,” he says. He spent 21 years practicing at North Dakota State University and 13 years in private practice work that focused on higher education law, both in Syracuse, New York, and in the Twin Cities. He had also worked as legal counsel for education-related nonprofits, so he says the move to the Edina Community Foundation was a “natural transition.”
What are some of the things Crockett is most proud of accomplishing with the foundation? “The first one that comes to mind is a commitment to recognizing the very diverse backgrounds of people who’ve made a contribution to the community,” he says. Locals who have received the Connecting with Kids Award and other recognitions “really represent a wide range of Edina people, with a diversity of ethnic, racial, gender and career backgrounds,” Crockett says. “A lot of people don’t realize how active people from different backgrounds are in serving the community. It certainly came to be very satisfying to see that happen.”
He also found it gratifying to work to bring more public art to Edina, including sculptures around Centennial Lakes Park and inside City Hall. “Inside the front door of City Hall, there’s a black marble raven on a pedestal. That came from one of our first summer art programs in Grandview Square Park,” Crockett says.
He’s leaving the foundation in great hands, having put together more than 70 pages of transition materials for the incoming leadership. “I knew we needed a collection of materials that reflected my institutional memory,” he says. “I came in with a particular background and organizational experience; the person succeeding me will likely have a different background, interests and goals, and the board should be receptive to that. And coming out of the pandemic, the real challenge is increasing the efforts to find sustainable financial support for the community and the foundation.”
What’s next for Crockett? He’s staying busy, with plans for a cycling trip in Maine, a hiking trip in Utah, a civil rights tour in Alabama and more. He’s also writing a collection of stories about people he knows, with a first draft slated for this fall. “I enjoy understanding people I know in my family and in the community. What I particularly enjoy is capturing their essence in a story.” Thanks to Crockett, Edina’s own story is a more generous, diverse and connected one.