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If the Wings Fit...

John Hudson "Retires" to Head Bank of Clarke County's New Foundation

Article by Melinda Gipson

Photography by Melinda Gipson, Celeste Linthicum

Originally published in Leesburg Lifestyle

Last February, John Hudson, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Bank of Clarke County, was looking forward to retiring this month after 37 years with the bank. It’s been an enviable career – uncommon in today’s highly mobile society – in which John helped promote the services of the venerable institution from $40 million in assets in 1983 to more than $1 billion in 2020.

During that time, he oversaw the bank’s creation of a highly successful annual charity golf tournament as well as many other giving programs that have donated more than $1 million to support the charitable works in the communities it serves. His expertise in the area hadn’t gone without notice, so when Brandon Lorey became only the 9th CEO and President in the bank’s 139-year history last summer, he floated the idea of creating a foundation that would focus the bank’s giving as it grows.

Brandon, John explains, came from United Bank in Connecticut where he had helped establish such a foundation. “He saw the benefit to our bank of doing something like that here. We do a lot of charitable giving now, but [having a foundation] would make the bank’s efforts even more targeted.” Currently, Bank of Clarke County’s giving programs are spread across public relations, marketing, and business development. A foundation – funded by the bank – would be entirely focused on charitable works.

A foundation umbrella, moreover, would provide a better tax situation for both those who support the foundation and for the bank itself. “Of course,” John said, “the biggest advantage would be that the community would benefit from our intention to grow this foundation to an eventual endowment, meaning that in perpetuity there will be an institution devoted to charitable giving in our bank’s footprint as long as the bank is around.”

Now, who could the bank get to set up and run such an organization – someone with comprehensive knowledge of area non-profits, community needs and an ability to spread resources around to maximum effect? We’ll give you two guesses and the second one doesn’t count.

John says, “As far as the bank was concerned, I was the logical person to take this on because I’ve been doing it. There’s no learning curve to get to know the charities, to get to know the need of the communities. I already know a lot about a lot of that. And, I think I would enjoy it.”

In fact, “seeing what a given donation does, and seeing how that improved the community, I think that was the best part of my job, so I’m getting rid of all the rest except the satisfaction of seeing our communities improve through the extra resources and support we provide.”

For most of us, after a year like 2020, giving up a well-earned retirement might still seem like the bridge too far. He admits, “My wife, who retired five years ago as an educator, used to say that I couldn’t spell the word ‘no,’ but that tells me I spent a lot of time with charities and boards and things just because I wanted to.”

Besides his obvious work ethic, John brings a genuine love for community engagement. He says, “Over the years, I served 23 years on the Winchester Salvation Army board, and eight years as its chairman.” It was an “extremely eye-opening experience” to learn “that there are homeless people in this area that are invisible to a lot of people. I wanted to go out there and say, ‘Did you know that these people are here,’ and when I did what I heard was, ‘No, but if they’re there, I’d like to help.’’

His wife helped John establish the Clarke County Education Foundation on which board he served for 19 years, four years as chairman.  “It’s still one of the most effective education foundations in the state of Virginia,” he says proudly.

The Executive Director position may not be full-time after his board is established, John says hopefully. Because the bank will fund the foundations efforts from day one, there won’t be a need to spend time on all the fundraising that a private foundation has to do, so he and the organization’s board can do the important work of learning more about the needs of the community and which charities serve those best. He’s gotten plenty of advice from the Connecticut foundation Brandon helped to establish, and it will take a bit of time for the foundation to receive permission from the Federal Reserve to open its doors. Beyond that, though, “We’re just carving out this one portion from the bank so one person can just hyper-focus on it a little more.”

Donations will support only those non-profits that serve the communities in the bank’s footprint – Frederick County, Winchester, Clarke County, Loudoun County and the western part of Fairfax County – and will make every effort to spread its resources among multiple causes rather than any one, using criteria like, “how many people do they serve, what types of services do they provide?”

Besides that, the foundation’s philosophy of giving hasn’t changed:  “The better the community, the better the bank. It’s a win win,” John says. “If you can keep a community healthier than if you didn’t support it you’ve done your job. I think we do a great job anyway but there’s always room for improvement.”

This year, as has become Bank of Clarke County's tradition, branch managers have chosen a dozen charities for which they'll be raising funding. Look for these boxes in your local branch: 

  • BERRYVILLE: Savvy Giving By Design
  • BOYCE: Blue Ridge Wildlife Center
  • STEPHENS CITY: Youth Development Center
  • 50 WEST: Esther Boyd Animal Shelter
  • SUNNYSIDE: Winchester Rescue Mission /Womens' Shelter
  • MILLBROOK: Concern Hotline
  • OLD TOWN CENTER: Dakota's Dream
  • PLEASANT VALLEY: Henry & William Evens Home
  • SENSENY ROAD: NW Works
  • PURCELLVILE: Tree of Life
  • LEESBURG: Blue Ridge Hospice
  • ASHBURN@ONE LOUDOUN: Ashburn Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company

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