Deedee Daniel, longtime executive director of the
Hendricks County Community Foundation, is retiring after 14 years on the job
By Mike Beas
There once was minor confusion pertaining to the spelling of the first name of the only executive director the Hendricks County Community Foundation has ever known.
Prior to his passing in 1992, Garth Daniel used to take the six letters of his oldest daughter’s name and throw in a space and an extra capital letter. To Garth, a longtime Hendricks County veterinarian, she wasn’t Deedee. She was Dee Dee.
Meanwhile, Deedee’s mom, Wanda, who worked as an elementary school teacher in the Mill Creek district, always got it right. Two D’s, four E’s, no spaces.
Now 61, Deedee Daniel laughs when recalling this discrepancy. Yet traces of sadness can be heard in her voice when discussing her late parents (Wanda passed away two years ago), for it was they who not only gave her life, but an instilled confidence to sprint in the direction of any dream she happened to be dreaming.
“I’ve always said, and I was fortunate to be able to say it to (Wanda), that I couldn’t have done this without them. And it’s from them where I got my love of philanthropy,” said Daniel, who is retiring from her post effective Dec. 31. “They gave me that can-do attitude.”
Case in point: Daniel’s career-altering decision 14 years ago to steer the new vessel known as the HCCF, which in those days conducted business inside a rented 100-square-foot office at the old Plainfield Chamber building. Daniel, who taught elementary school for five years after college and then was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years, figured she would be working 20-hour weeks.
For a time she was. However, as the HCCF began to blossom into the manager/distributor of charitable contributions we know today with gradual formation of various committees and a board of directors, those 20-hour weeks became 30-hour weeks and so on.
Twenty hours? Puh-leeze. Not in this lifetime. Or at least in this century.
“There is no average day. I usually talk to one or two people a day about the community foundation and talk to social and civic groups,” said Daniel, “There are many night meetings and administration of the office. It’s just a crazy lifestyle.”
The ideal blend of charisma and caring, Daniel in many respects is a walking, talking version of the words that greet those who visit the HCCF’ss website (www.hendricks countycf.org): Connecting caring people with causes that matter.
“I have known Deedee for 25 years. I worked with her in PTO when our kids were in school. It was obvious then that she had a lot going on. Very capable. We couldn’t have had a more perfect person to take the foundation from birth until now,” said Beth Ann Leach, executive director of Hendricks County Senior Services.
“Deedee is very genuine, and anybody who meets her sees that. She can talk to anyone, and that’s important. And she has that aura about her. People trust her.”
Nonetheless, the time has come for Daniel to pass the torch. Her decision, not someone else’s. Sounds strange coming from a woman possessing the energy of someone half her years, but Daniel has her reasons.
“Why am I retiring? Because I have three beautiful grandsons, the oldest of which is going into kindergarten next year. Those kiddos grow up too fast. I want to be there when they want me to be there,” said Daniel. “And there’s a lot of this country I haven’t seen. For instance, I’ve never been to Boston or Philadelphia to see all the history.”
In Hendricks County, Daniel has made some of her own. That makes her special no matter how you spell it.