The University of the South and South Cumberland Community Fund (SCCF) jointly announced today that Katie Goforth has been appointed director of community development. Reporting to both the director of the office of civic engagement at the University of the South and the chair of the SSCF board, Goforth oversees local and regional community development initiatives that serve South Cumberland Plateau communities. Working with the community to develop initiatives that also align with state and regional development goals, Goforth oversees OCE-SCCF joint community programs. These include grantmaking, the AmeriCorps VISTA program, and nonprofit capacity building. In her new role Goforth additionally collaborates with University faculty to develop courses and research that support the partnership’s community development goals. Goforth also teaches and administers the student-run philanthropy program—a joint SCCF and University initiative.
“I am very excited to serve my community in this new role. This position offers the opportunity to continue work that has always been of deep personal importance to me, with a greater scope and impact. I look forward to broadening the partnership between the University, SCCF, and community partners,” said Goforth. “I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work alongside the many organizations and individuals engaged in community development on the Plateau— to continue building on the tremendous assets of our communities for a stronger, healthier and more prosperous quality of life for all."
Born in Grundy County and raised in Colorado, Goforth made Tennessee her permanent home after earning a B.A. from the University of Colorado with dual majors in Anthropology and Geography. She worked for over 20 years in the field of K-12 education, along the way earning a Master's in Elementary Education from Tennessee State University and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership from Tennessee Technological University.
Goforth later transitioned into the field of nonprofit grant management serving as director of the South Cumberland Health Network and as co-director of grants for Volunteer Behavioral Health. Goforth is active on numerous local and regional committees and boards in the fields of public health and education, including the South Cumberland Health Network, Grundy County Health Council, Nurture the Next, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, and Friends of South Cumberland State Park.
In her most recent role as manager of the South Cumberland Plateau AmeriCorps VISTA Project, Goforth developed the program by adding nine new service sites while maintaining 14 full-year VISTAs and twenty summer associates, making the VISTA project one of the largest in the state of Tennessee. Goforth additionally expanded the impact of the Summer Associate VISTA program with the popular South Cumberland Summer Meal Program, increasing food distribution volume nearly ten-fold. The program served 50,000 free meals to Plateau children during the summer of 2020 and increased volume even further during the summer of 2021 serving over 60,900 meals in Franklin, Marion, and Grundy counties.
“Speaking for the Office of Civic of Engagement, the University, and myself I can say whole-heartedly, that I am extraordinarily pleased to have Katie Goforth in this position,” said Dr. Jim Peterman. “I have worked with Katie in a number of community development capacities for the last several years, and I am confident that she will have an even greater impact in her new role.”
Chair of the South Cumberland Community Fund board Rich Wyckoff added, “SCCF looks forward to continuing our joint community development work and grants programs under the leadership of Katie Goforth who has a long history of working for nonprofit organizations on the South Cumberland Plateau. We are excited to welcome a person of Katie’s talents and skills that will continue to enrich our joint work on the Plateau with the University of the South.”