Learn more about Blue Sky Fund's Response to COVID-19

Blue Sky Fund Appoints Eleanor Kootsey As New Executive Director

Home / Get Involved / What’s New / Blue Sky Fund Appoints Eleanor Kootsey As New Executive Director

Blue Sky Fund announced Monday that the Board of Directors selected Eleanor Kootsey as the new Executive Director of the organization beginning August 12, 2019. Kootsey brings over 20 years of fundraising experience supporting youth empowerment efforts for children in low-income communities. She will take over from Amanda Godbold Payne, who has served as Interim Executive Director since November 2018.

“After an extensive search, the Board is thrilled to have found someone of Eleanor’s experience and passion for addressing the inequitable opportunities that persist for children in Richmond’s neighborhoods and schools,” Debbie Edwards, Blue Sky’s Board President said.

Kootsey launched the local affiliates of both Girls for a Change and Higher Achievement - which empower elementary, middle and high school students from low-income neighborhoods with the self-efficacy to create social change and academic progress toward college readiness - and served as Executive Director of Higher Achievement for three years. Most recently, Kootsey advised on fundraising and expansion strategies for projects serving trauma-impacted youth with the United Way of South Hampton Roads, Small World Yoga in Nashville and Voices for Virginia’s Children, among other organizations.

Blue Sky Fund experienced one of its most successful years in 2018; the organization served 3,370 students - the highest reach in its 12-year history - and raised a record revenue to support the inner growth of underserved youth across Richmond through outdoor education. Payne sustained program operations throughout the 2018-19 school year, while the Board of Directors committed to an internal process designed to recruit the best possible leader. Payne will return to her role as Operations Director at Blue Sky Fund.

“Eleanor’s many years in fundraising, strategic visioning and organizational growth will serve Blue Sky Fund well into the future, deepening our partnership with Richmond Public Schools and facilitating long-term transformational impact on the children we serve. We have a lot to look forward to, and I’m excited about what lies ahead for Blue Sky Fund,” Edwards said.

Kootsey will join Blue Sky Fund in time for the start of a new program year with Richmond Public Schools, guiding the organization through an expansion of the elementary school program from 8 to 14 schools that will reach an estimated 3,100 students.

About Blue Sky Fund
Blue Sky Fund is a non-profit organization providing transformational experiences to Richmond’s urban youth through outdoor education, and aims to give every young person in Richmond the opportunity to discover themselves by actively engaging the natural world. Founded in 2008, Blue Sky Fund has evolved to offer school-based, after-school, weekend, and summer outdoor programming that meets the following goals: help children achieve academic success, especially in the sciences, through active outdoor education that is appropriate for their current science curriculum; and develop character and leadership through outdoor experiences that expand horizons, increase confidence, and build collaboration skills.

Contact Debbie Edwards, Blue Sky Fund Board President, for more information at