Emily Bramhall to retire from M.V. Community Foundation

Bramhall expanded support for Islanders through the foundation. 

Emily Bramhall, the executive director of Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation, will be retiring by the end of the year. — Eunki Seonwoo

Emily Bramhall, the executive director of Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation, will be retiring by the end of the year. 

Bramhall originally joined the foundation as a board member in 2008, which was when it was still called the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard. Bramhall was the board chair when she transitioned to acting executive director in 2016. Initially, Bramhall took the position on an interim basis, for one year. 

“Over the course of six-plus years, she has steered the organization’s maturation from a small grant and scholarship trust into a vital community foundation,” Isabelle Lew, chair of the foundation’s board, wrote in a mass email. “With the foundation on strong footing, having played a leadership role in providing emergency funds to meet the human toll of the pandemic, Emily will retire by the end of the year. She leaves the organization stronger in all respects — organizationally, financially, and as a presence for good on the Island.”

Bramhall told The Times working in “such a rich place” with “so much passion and soul,” like the Vineyard, “really energized” her, which led to her extended stay as executive director. “It’s been a really great run,” she said. “I just feel the time has come [to retire]. I feel really happy about the work and the place, or the direction the Community Foundation was able to go and take with the support of the board … I feel ready to let the next person take it to the next stage.”

Although being the executive director was a great experience, the pandemic made operating a nonprofit difficult. “The past couple of years with COVID and the pandemic have been a really stressful time for a lot of people in this field,” Bramhall said. “I’m just looking forward to being able to have some time to enjoy the Vineyard in a broader way.” 

Wherever life may take her, Bramhall said it will always be deeply connected to Martha’s Vineyard and the foundation. Bramhall told The Times the one aspect she will miss the most about the foundation is the people. 

“The people that work for the good of this Island are so inspirational. It’s just been nothing but a privilege to have been able to work side by side with this group of people,” she said. “I mean, what a lucky community we have. We’re so fortunate with the extraordinary talent and care of so many people who care about the community in all different manners: in the arts, the environment, public health, human services. It’s a really, really rich community that we have, and I have been really honored to have worked alongside so many people.”

Bramhall also expressed gratitude to the foundation’s “amazing donors” and “fantastic board.”

Under Bramhall, the foundation grew greatly. According to the press release, the foundation had an endowment of just over $3 million. Now, it is a $16 million community foundation. The release also listed other accomplishments, such as the establishment of the Emergency Response Fund to meet urgent community needs (e.g. rental relief, utility support, food security), making an Island-wide strategic partnership “to fill the gaps in the Island safety net,” and receiving $1.8 million in state and federal grants “to alleviate the repercussions of COVID Island-wide,” among others. 

“I have no doubt that it’s going to continue on in a really impactful and meaningful way in our community,” Bramhall told The Times. 

The foundation is now looking for a new executive director, and “interested individuals are encouraged to send confidential letters of interest and a résumé” to apply@marthasvineyardcf.org. A job description for the executive director position can be found at bit.ly/3Pa7VY4

“For now, we tip our hat and get to the work of securing a new leader for the foundation,” Lew wrote in the email.