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Living Legend: Nancy Anthony

Nancy Anthony

Former Oklahoma City Community Foundation executive director

Nancy Anthony describes her life as a “perfect storm of good luck,” which is a pretty humble way to describe 38 years spent developing the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

When Anthony became executive director of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in 1985, it had assets of $20 million and one other full-time employee. As of 2021, the foundation now has assets of more than $1.6 billion, 47 full-time employees, and makes average annual distributions to the Oklahoma City community of $46 million. That’s more than twice the amount of annual distributions now than the foundation had in total assets when she started.

“I don’t want to take credit for all this,” she said. “What I am proud of is we really do have an institution in Oklahoma City that is community based, and it is very geared towards local philanthropy. And that didn’t exist before. It’s not just my thing or John Kilpatrick’s thing. It’s the community’s thing.”

She’s quick to deflect attention from herself and back to the staff she helped create and then cultivate during her tenure.

“I was just the cherry on the top of the ice cream,” she said. “It does take a whole staff when an organization is as big as we became.”

Anthony is from Kentucky, and she has two master’s degrees from Yale. She finished her doctorate in epidemiology at the University of Oklahoma after following her husband here. Her educational path didn’t lead her to her work at the foundation, but that didn’t dissuade her at all.

“It was fortunate to have fallen into something that worked well and I was interested to do,” she said. “What did I think I was going to do? This was clearly not part of the deal. Bloom where you are planted. This is where I am, and this is the skill set I have.

“Serve people well. Whatever you do, try and do it well.”

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