Foundation leadership in transition

Published 10:42 pm Friday, April 29, 2016

A number of leadership changes have taken place recently at the Obici Healthcare Foundation as the organization moves into its second decade of service.



George Y. Birdsong, who has been chairman of the board since its inception, recently stepped down in a planned transition. Robert Claud, chairman of the grants committee, and Dr. Jeffrey Forman also completed their service after 10 years.

In addition, three new members have come on the board, and a new chairman, Sam Glasscock, has taken the helm.

Email newsletter signup

Executive Director Gina Pitrone also has stepped down after seven years. An interim executive director has taken her place for the time being.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working on health care issues in Suffolk and the surrounding territory,” Birdsong said recently. “It’s quite inspirational to know that all this work is made possible by Mr. Obici, who left basically his estate for these purposes.”

The foundation was created in 2006 with assets from Amedeo Obici, the founder of Planters Peanuts, and funds from the merger of Louise Obici Memorial Hospital and Sentara Healthcare. Since its inception, it has provided nearly $35 million in grant funding to 82 agencies serving nearly 362,000 participants.

“I have a great sense of satisfaction that our board has worked hard to carry out the wishes of Mr. Obici regarding health care needs in our area,” Birdsong said.



When the foundation was formed, it was planned that three sets of board members would rotate off the board at nine, 10 and 11 years, respectively. There is one set of original board members left, and they include Glasscock, who serves as the new chairman.

He said the board would make a diligent search for the new permanent executive director.

“We still want to back off and look at where we’ve been and where we want to go and what sort of person we’re looking for,” he said. “We’ll make sure the full board is comfortable with the search and method of search.”

In the meantime, Glasscock said, the foundation is fortunate to have found Angelica Light as its interim director. She is a former 12-year executive director of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and its predecessor, the Norfolk Foundation. She retired in 2012.

“She’s a person with a good deal of experience,” Glasscock said. “She brings a lot of experience, a lot of ideas and can help us a great deal. She also is helping us try to find somebody to carry on as a permanent executive director.”

The three new board members include Robert Barclay IV; Priscilla “Pat” Edwards; and Dr. Ralph Howell.

“It is a time to look back at all we have accomplished together and a time to celebrate what is to come for the future of this fine Foundation,” Pitrone stated in a press release. “Mr. Obici intended for his legacy to last indefinitely, and I think there is a great future ahead for the foundation.”

Birdsong honored Pitrone’s service to the foundation.

“I have enjoyed working with her, and she’s had a lot of good expertise and accomplished a lot of good things for our community,” Birdsong said.

The foundation’s service area includes Suffolk, Franklin, and Isle of Wight, Southampton, Surry, Sussex and Gates, N.C., counties.

For more information, call 539-8810.