News & Events | Henri Goettel Announces Retirement After 20 years | Truman Heartland Community Foundation

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Henri Goettel Announces Retirement After 20 years


Henri Goettel, longtime leader of Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC), has announced her retirement after more than 20 years as the program’s volunteer adult facilitator.

“Henri has been the backbone of the Youth Advisory Council since day one,” said Phil Hanson, Truman Heartland Community Foundation President and CEO. “She’s been a great mentor to our students and a phenomenal example of leadership for our next generation of philanthropists.”

Goettel, a retired educator from the Independence School District, helped launched the Youth Advisory Council in 1998. At the time, Truman Heartland’s Board chair, Barbara Potts, wanted to engage local students in grantmaking to provide the Foundation’s competitive grants committee with a teen perspective on funding requests for youth-serving programs.

Starting with just 12 students in 1998, the Youth Advisory Council has grown to nearly 160 students participating annually and aims to empower student to change their communities through philanthropy. Under Goettel’s leadership, students from 12 high schools in Eastern Jackson County work together on grantmaking, fundraising and community service.

In 2004, Goettel contributed the initial gift establishing an endowed fund at the Community Foundation, allowing the students to award its own grants to nonprofits. Each year, the students plan and host a fundraising event to help build up their endowment fund to support grantmaking. Today, the YAC Endowment Fund balance exceeds $73,000 and in total, the program has provided more than $24,000 in 73 grants to nonprofits.

“I often refer to YAC as ‘our school of philanthropy,’” said Hanson. “It’s a very unique program. Any other time students from various schools come together it’s all about competition, whether that be with sports, debate, or scholar bowl etc. YAC is an opportunity for our students from various schools come together to make a difference and build a stronger community.”

2019 YAC Senior Banquet
Committed to engaging students in philanthropy, Rachael Cassiday Watkins, Truman Heartland’s Director of Programs and Donor Services, has been named the Youth Advisory Council Director. Goettel will serve as an advisor to Watkins and continue to play an important role in the program.

“Seeing Youth Council members grow into their philanthropic shoes has only strengthened my belief in the future of Heartland communities. And I’m delighted that our next generation of philanthropists will have the opportunity to learn and grow under Rachael’s leadership,” said Henri Goettel.

Truman Heartland’s Youth Advisory Council engages nearly 160 students annually from 13 high schools in Eastern Jackson County. YAC students gain hands-on experience in fundraising, grantmaking and volunteering. Learn more about Youth Advisory Council at



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