Brian Byrnes, the new executive director of the Santa Fe Community Foundation was one of these people. I really didn’t want to like him. I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t, even before I actually met him. Let me explain.
The Santa Fe Community Foundation http://www.santafecf.org is one of the many worthy organizations that La Fonda supports. It is one of the best run, stellar non-profits we have here in Santa Fe. It covers a broad range of needs in our community that no one else fills. It has one of the strongest boards in town (maybe I am biased as my dear friends Hervey Juris and Alexis Girard are just a few of the talented board members) steering strategy and providing leadership. So, why did I want to NOT like Brian? Simply put, because he is not Billie Blair.
Billie was the intrepid leader of the Santa Fe Community Foundation for the past few years; she is also a dear friend. I have often joked to anyone who would listen that Billie could run the world, and it would be a much better place if we’d just step back and let her. Billie decided it was time that she wanted to step down and turn the reins over to a new leader. Her high heels were indeed huge shoes to fill (and I know something about trying to fill gigantic shoes in trying to run La Fonda after Sam Ballen passed away). So, I was predisposed not to like Brian solely because he was not Billie. Well, even before our delicious La Plazuela food was served at lunch yesterday, I found my resolve melting quicker than the snow on La Fonda’s sidewalks. I couldn’t believe how charming, disarming, sincere and authentic he is. He is not just talking the talk about philanthropy, he is walking the walk in his personal life which is all one can ask.
I know Billie has been – and will continue to be – missed at the Foundation by me and all who know her. But, I am confident that Brian will forge his own path and steer this fabulous Foundation, which provides so many needed services to our community, in a positive direction. So, here’s to all of us who from time to time, may not want to like someone, only to find out how wrong they can be – and admit it.
Good luck, Brian. And Billie, may the next venture in your life end up being just as successful as your time at the helm of the Santa Fe Community Foundation.