The new executive director of The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia has decades of scholastic and professional work at Stetson University.
Savannah-Jane Griffin spent 15 years in Stetson’s Community Engagement and Inclusive Excellence, where she rose through the ranks and was its executive director for five years.
“I’ve grown professionally as Stetson has grown,” Griffin told The Beacon before starting work Feb. 14. “And I will continue to keep relationships in the community.”
Before joining the campus organization, Griffin earned a Bachelor of Business Administration. She later added an MBA that she earned while working.
Griffin replaced longtime Neighborhood Center Executive Director Susan Clark, who resigned in early December with little public notice.
At Community Engagement and Inclusive Excellence, Griffin led and managed the campus’s efforts in community engagement, diversity and inclusion, and religious and spiritual life.
She also has been active in the DeLand community, serving for almost a decade on the board of the MainStreet DeLand Association (she is currently its treasurer), and a board member for both the AdventHealth DeLand Foundation and the Greater Union Life Center.
“The Neighborhood Center has a strong support network in the community, and I’m impressed with its board and staff,” Griffin said. “I’m sure there will be challenges — the pandemic, a lack of affordable housing, and inflation — but I’m confident that with the support of the community and city, we’ll be able to come up with ways to address the community’s needs.”
Griffin said she’ll do “a lot of learning” in her first year, but she plans to work on fundraising, learning how to make The Neighborhood Center a better place to work, and developing a five- to 10-year strategic plan.
Her professional experiences will no doubt be a big help. In a message to faculty and staff announcing Griffin’s departure, Rosalie A. Richards, Ph.D., the associate provost for faculty development at Stetson’s Office of Faculty Engagement, heaped on the praise for Griffin’s accomplishments.
“[She] was instrumental in Stetson securing its $2 million endowment from the Bonner Foundation for the Bonner Scholars Program, establishing the AmeriCorps VISTA Program, and stewarding multiple grant awards to ensure our students’ civic engagement towards leading lives of purpose,” Richards wrote in part. “She has played an integral role in the launch of Stetson’s Peace Corps Prep Program and has collaborated with diverse constituencies to advance our faculty corps’ professional development and achievement.”
Will Hollis, president of The Neighborhood Center’s board of directors and chair of the search committee for a new chief executive officer, said he was impressed by Griffin during the interview process.
“Her career in community engagement, not just at Stetson but within the DeLand community as well as nationwide non-profit organizations, make her a perfect fit to succeed Mrs. Clark’s impressive tenure,” Hollis said in a news release.
Griffin, who said she didn’t know any details surrounding Clark’s departure, said her eyes are on the future, not the past.
“We’re going to be moving forward, and we’re going to do great things,” she said. “We’re going to tell the story about the great things our workers do, and tell people about the many ways they can help.”