Unsung Hero — Kol Medina

Executive director, Kitsap Community Foundation
Kol Medina — Resident of Bainbridge Island; married, one son
Kol Medina — Resident of Bainbridge Island; married, one son

Kol Medina has been serving as the executive director for Kitsap Community Foundation since 2012. Though his fingers are on nearly all the activities of the small organization, his primary role is to lead the nonprofit and serve as the spokesperson, develop partnerships and collaborations with other nonprofits and businesses, grow and steward the donor relationships, manage the small staff and develop and launch new programs.

Launched in 1999, the Kitsap Community Foundation administers family foundations, scholarship programs and other funds and manages several endowments; provides a competitive grants program and fiscal sponsorships; offers donor assistance; and provides other philanthropic programs and leadership.

The foundation’s contributions in 2013-’15 included, among many others: providing a $1 million grant for the Kingston Library, providing $25,000 in scholarships to local students, training 200 staff at 70 local nonprofits, acquiring land for a new Kingston community park and facilitating the addition of a $500,000 roof for the first public, roofed arena in the county.

“The foundation literally exists to serve and improve the entire community,” Medina says.

During Medina’s tenure, the foundation has nearly doubled its endowment (to $5.5 million), increased staffing and the operating budget, grown its board from six to 13 members and distributed more than $2.5 million in grants (compared to $800,000 in the entire preceding 13 years). Other accomplishments include the launch of the Kitsap Center for Nonprofit Excellence, which provides educational workshops to nonprofits; and the establishment of Kitsap Strong, an investment of more than $1 million to help alleviate intergenerational poverty in Kitsap County.

But perhaps the biggest accomplishment during Medina’s nearly four years — or at least the most visible one — was the launch of Great Kitsap Give in 2014. The community-wide event, which is part of a nationwide movement, raised about $1.45 million this year for 252 Kitsap nonprofits and a total of more than $3 million over the past three years.

Prior to the Kitsap Community Foundation, Medina was executive director for nine years at West Sound Wildlife Shelter. His background also includes serving with the Peace Corps in West Africa, representing nonprofits as an attorney for three years as well as managing other organizations for more than a decade.

He currently serves on the Bainbridge Island City Council.

“I consider this to be public service,” he says. “As a city council member, I’m in a position to accomplish a lot of good for my community.”

Why Do This Work

I’ve always felt that my purpose in life is to help my community, to leave the place I find myself better than when I arrived. It became clear to me while pursuing my undergraduate degree in environmental studies that nonprofits are the most effective tool to improve a community. So, I’ve dedicated my adult life to helping nonprofits grow and prosper because that is the best way to help my community.

Why The Work is Important

Kitsap Community Foundation’s work is of particular importance because the foundation is working to assist and improve every nook and cranny and every demographic group in the county. How is this? It’s because the foundation’s mission is to grow philanthropy and charity throughout the entire county by assisting and helping all nonprofits and all donors. By helping all nonprofits in the community be more impactful, the foundation is helping the entire community.

Best Part of the Job

The most fulfilling part of my job is working with donors to help them achieve their charitable goals. The Kitsap Community Foundation is basically a charitable bank that any donor in the community can use. Just like a financial adviser helps a person invest money in the market, the foundation helps people invest their charitable dollars in the community. When I help a donor make a more effective investment in a nonprofit, the donor is joyful, the nonprofit is grateful, and our community will benefit from that nonprofit’s work.

Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge is educating donors about how the foundation works and how it can help them achieve their own charitable goals in more effective ways. The foundation truly exists to help donors, not take their money and use it for the foundation. Most nonprofits are looking for donors to give them money; Kitsap Community Foundation is looking for donors who will use our services.

Best Compliment on the Job

Honestly, I don’t know. I’m sure people have said nice things about me, but I never remember that stuff. I’m really not in it for recognition or compliments.


Do you know a first responder, teacher, public servant, assistant or any other professional who deserves to be in the spotlight?
Email a nomination to rtollefson [at] wetapple [dot] com with a short statement why this person is an unsung hero. Please include your and their contact information.

Things I Can’t Do Without

Quiet time to relax and recuperate. I spend my days acting like an extrovert, but at heart I’m really a strong introvert. When I am out in the community talking with people and making presentations, I am literally giving my energy to the world. I need time at home to recover those energy stores.

Best Way to Relax

Spending time with my family. Biking, mainly mountain biking. And, if I can find the time, video games.

Hobbies Outside of Work

Biking. Mountain bike races with my Kitsap Racing team. Camping with my family. I love reading fantasy novels, but I don’t dare let myself start them these days because they’ll keep me up too late at night!