Bret Bicoy had long ago set forth a professional goal of leading one of the nation's large foundations.
Everything in his career was heading in that direction and Bret couldn't wait to get there.
Then in 2007, a tragedy struck, causing the Bicoy family to completely rethink their life. While embarrassed to admit that it took such an event to open their eyes to what was most important, it would be even more tragic if they didn't learn the lesson they had been given. Bret and Cari longed to raise their children surrounded by family in a place that values community.
Thus in 2007, Bret resigned from his position as President of the Nevada Community Foundation so he, along with his wife and their six children, could return home to Northeast Wisconsin.
Prior to Bret's arrival at the Nevada Community Foundation, it was a dramatically underperforming organization. Bret viewed it as a challenge and opportunity to rebuild it almost entirely from scratch. He completely revamped the development strategy and hired their first fundraising staff. Bret brought a level of professionalism and enthusiasm which inspired donors to give at unprecedented levels for Nevada.
Before Bret arrived, the Nevada Community Foundation's total assets were less than $19 million. During four years of his leadership, the foundation received $49 million in new contributions. Bret also implemented a comprehensive planned giving program which generated known estate commitments of $71 million - and far more that will only be known when the estate gifts are realized many years from now.
Perhaps even more exciting, however, were some of the programmatic initiatives that were launched during Bret's tenure in Nevada. Under his leadership the foundation assumed a more public role, actively bringing together businesses, charities, donors and government to address issues such as foster care, hunger and community building. The foundation also established a highly regarded experimental granting program focused on civic engagement, involving average citizens as an integral part of the planning process.
During his tenure in Nevada, Bret was recognized as a person of influence in the In Business Las Vegas annual "Influence" issue as one of the "men and women who make things happen" in Nevada.
Bret was named a Fellow of the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C. for his work promoting philanthropy in diverse communities. He also served on the Council's Committee on Inclusiveness, the premiere voice for diversity issues in the philanthropic world.
He was honored in 2006 with the Young Alumni Achievement Award from Tufts University as one "whose distinguished accomplishments bring credit to his community, his profession, and Tufts University."
Bret enjoyed similar success (albeit on a more modest scale) when living previously in Appalachian Ohio and Northeast Wisconsin.
While in Ohio, Bret served as President & CEO of the Marietta Community Foundation. The Marietta Chamber of Commerce once named him the Telesis Community Leader of the Year as "a believer in impossible things, whose vision, enthusiasm and dedication have unquestionably made their mark on our community."
In Green Bay, Bret previously served as the Senior Foundation Officer at the Green Bay Community Foundation. He worked as a Project Coordinator and community organizer in Green Bay's neighborhoods for the University of Wisconsin Extension and former Mayor Paul Jadin's Neighborhood Resource Board. He is a graduate of Leadership Green Bay.
Bret served one term on the Brown County Board of Supervisors and was twice elected to the Green Bay City Council.
He is the proud father of Alyssa, David, Bret Jr., Kekoa, Nalani and Malia. Born and raised in Aiea, Hawaii (the only city in America spelled only with vowels), Bret still loves to surf but has yet to find any really good waves in Wisconsin.
Bret continues to serve the community primarily through his efforts as the President & CEO of the Door County Community Foundation, a modest but vibrant foundation based in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. However, his flexible schedule and the relatively small population of Door County allows Bret to accept consulting projects based on the needs of the client (and how much fun he thinks everyone will have working together!).