Pat Potts

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Photo by Brent Fuchs

Pat Potts has a long history with nonprofit organizations. Besides cofounding the Potts Family Foundation in Oklahoma City with her husband, Ray, she also founded the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, serving as president and CEO for more than 20 years. In addition, she was a founder of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition and has served on many other boards in her attempt to help the community. While one of the earliest goals of the Potts Family Foundation was to help provide the support nonprofits need, the foundation has also focused on early childhood development and started the 25 by 25 program with the goal of raising Oklahoma’s ranking of early childhood well-being into the top 25 states in the country by 2025. We recently talked to Potts and got her thoughts on …

… starting the Potts Family Foundation.

I think part of starting the foundation had to do with this whole concept of paying it forward. We’ve been fortunate and really wanted to share to help others. We also wanted to share that with our kids and ultimately our grandkids, and so when we started the foundation, we set it up with that in mind. The majority of our board is community leaders, and that has really raised our game tremendously because we brought in so many outstanding leaders in our state. They have helped us expand our direction and our effectiveness.

… the 25 by 25 program.

As we had grant requests come in, we noted that we were spreading ourselves too thin and not focusing on the root cause of a lot of the problems we were trying to address. As we learned more, we came to the conclusion that we needed to focus on early childhood, and so our staff has been very involved in that over several years. I think one of the things that really pushed us in that direction was the awareness that 85 percent of the brain’s volume develops by the age of 3. The research is just overwhelming that what happens positively or negatively those first few years has a tremendous impact on outcomes later in life.

… the gr