Founding Board Member and Emeritus Extraordinaire
March being Women’s History Month, we thought it only fitting to recognize one of the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation’s founding board members. Tia McMillan served as President of EWVCF in the early 2000s and has continued to be involved with the Foundation and with the community ever since.
When I started searching for biographical information about Tia, I discovered that my predecessor Amy Owen had saved a copy of the following “Citizen of the Year” nomination. Written by another dear friend and previous board member of the Foundation, Betty Russell, this nomination beautifully illustrates what an amazing person Tia really is. In 2007, Tia was recognized by the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce as the Berkeley County Citizen of the Year, an honor truly well-deserved.
To illustrate the impact Tia and the other founding members of the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation have had, you’ll note that at the time Betty wrote the nomination, EWVCF held $6.5 million in endowments. Today the Foundation has more than $35 million in assets and has awarded nearly $15 million in grants and scholarships during the past 27 years.
We will forever be indebted to Tia and the other founding board members for laying the groundwork to build this awesome Foundation.
Thank you, Tia!
Why Tia McMillan Should Be Berkeley County Citizen of the Year
A native West Virginian and resident of Berkley county since 1986, Tia McMillan’s words and deeds exemplify the true meaning of philanthropy: love of mankind. As put by one fellow volunteer leader, “Tia has never, in memory, hesitated to mix business and philanthropy. Her principal work blends evenly with the region’s best causes.”
As a businesswoman and co-owner of Jefferson Distributing Company, Tia has made it a practice to bolster the efforts of numerous charities and programs in the community. From golf tournaments to event fundraisers to scholarship programs, Jefferson Distributing Company’s management practice has been one of generosity and partnership. What’s more, through her company, ideas to address community needs have been both flexible and creative, from taking on programs to build alcohol abuse and misuse awareness in our area high schools to incubating new nonprofit groups serving Berkeley County. Her efforts from this vantage point are strengthened and made more valuable by the commitment of her co-owner and spouse, Bob McMillan, and Jefferson Distributing Company Chief Executive Officer, Jim Linsenmyer.
Tia has served as volunteer treasurer to her church since 1995, helping to develop investment standards, increased communication among the church leaders regarding church finances, and overall bookkeeping improvements.
Statewide, she has served since 1993 as a Governor’s appointee on the board of directors of the West Virginia Humanities Council. During that time, she has provided “excellent service and wise leadership.” The Council has a statewide mission and board representation from all parts of West Virginia. Tia has helped keep the organization in touch with the Eastern Panhandle and represent our region. Last July, she helped to organize the group’s summer board meeting in the Panhandle, assisting in important ways with arrangements with Shepherd University and others. As put by the organization’s executive leader, “We appreciate Tia’s good business sense and solid advice on our finance committee.”
Arts and culture are of paramount interest to Tia, and she has applied that vision locally, as well. In 1987, she was part of a group of volunteers who created the Boarman Arts Centre (now, the Arts Centre). She oversaw the Centre’s efforts to showcase local artisan works at its facility, organized fundraisers, attracted key donors to the cause, and recruited incoming board members until her final term serving as board president in 1995.
She started on the ground floor, too, as the initial idea of the Contemporary American Theatre Festival took shape in 1990. She helped build networks with legislators and theatre enthusiasts in Charleston who served as important advisors. She became a founding board member, and after a nine-year term, was voted as an Honorary Member. Now an acclaimed venue—nationwide—to see new contemporary plays, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival has proven more than a boon to live theatre. The Theatre serves as a sound investment in economic advancement, filling area hotels and restaurants with out-of-town theatre patrons. The Wall Street Journal has named it as one of the eight best places in America to see new contemporary plays. As stated by Shepherd University President, David Dunlop, “Tia was very supportive in helping to promote and to guide the festival to its current high level of success.”
More recently, Tia has worked to build a legacy for Berkeley County and all of the Eastern Panhandle. Tia has been a volunteer leader and “heavy lifter” in creating and building the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation since its inception in 1995. She has served on the organization’s executive committee since that time and provided unflagging leadership as its board president from 2000 to 2004. Working to build locally donated gifts and bequests that stay here in the community as everlasting endowments, Tia has helped strengthen the organization’s capacity by adding its first staff in 2001 due to a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. Under her presidential leadership, the Foundation has more than doubled in assets, from $1.3 million to almost $3 million in gifts and pledges. Today, the Community Foundation holds $6.5 million in endowment. The Foundation has been instrumental in providing local training to area nonprofits through collaboration with the United Way of Berkeley & Morgan Counties, United Way of Jefferson County, and Shepherd University. Tia was instrumental in a first-ever and well-attended 2004 “Spirit of the Panhandle” event honoring three grassroots “unsung” volunteers from the Eastern Panhandle. Last but not least, through Tia’s generosity, Jefferson Distributing Company provided professional office space for the Foundation, pro bono, from 2001 to 2004.
Gifts of time, resources, ideas, and financial support are a tangible way to express love of community. In Tia’s case, she offers a trove of time, talent, and treasure to our community that is making a difference for our friends, families, and neighbors. Her work merits special recognition.
Nominated by: Betty Russell