Garbe Reser

The Sherwood Trust will start 2020 with a leadership transition.

Danielle Garbe Reser, CEO of the private nonprofit philanthropic organization, announced today her plan to leave her post in January.

She has served in the top administrative position for the organization since 2015. She said in the announcement she plans to pursue other opportunities to serve the region.

A search for a new CEO will be led by Sherwood Trust’s board of directors, which will make other announcements about proceeding forward in the coming weeks, the announcement said.

“Danielle has excelled in leading Sherwood Trust during a critical period of transition for our organization,” said Sherwood Trust board President Chuck Fulton in a prepared statement. “She has been an effective and passionate advocate for Sherwood Trust and this region, and we are grateful for her leadership in delivering on our vision that everyone in the Walla Walla Valley has a sense of belonging and contributes to a thriving region.

“As a result of her work, we have a solid foundation on which her successor can build.”

Fulton said the board regrets but accepts the decision to step down.

Garbe Reser had herself been a beneficiary of Donald and Virginia Sherwood, who launched their namesake organization in 1991.

When she first came to Walla Walla, it was on a scholarship from the Sherwood family to attend Whitman College.

She graduated with honors with a degree in politics and then earned a master’s in public administration from New York’s Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Before joining the Sherwood Trust, she had served since 2001 in the U.S. Foreign Service in Washington, D.C., Indonesia and Lebanon.

“I am deeply grateful to have had this opportunity to return to the area and advance Donald and Virginia Sherwood’s vision for the region, and hopefully, in some small way, repay their incredible generosity in investing in my education,” she said in the announcement.

“This region’s greatest assets are its people. It has been a tremendous privilege to partner with our board members and area nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Valley. I am proud to call Walla Walla home and look forward to exploring new ways to serve the region.”

Since its launch, Sherwood Trust has invested more than $32 million in the Walla Walla Valley. That includes contributions through its core grants and in the new smaller “impact grants” between $5,000 and $20,000, introduced during Garbe Reser’s tenure.

Garbe Reser is credited with expanding and strengthening the organization’s grantmaking, programs and community outreach. In the last four-plus years, she has overseen $5 million in grantmaking and attracted more than $500,000 in grants from foundations based outside of the region.

She emphasized diversification, increasing engagement with Latino residents and investments in Latino-led and Latino-serving organizations.

Her drive in the organization also included transparency and advocacy, the announcement said. The expansion of marketing and communications systems through social media, newsletters, a revamped website, an office relocation and a new online grant system all took place under her oversight. During her leadership, the board also launched the Walla Walla 2020 Census Fund in a partnership with Blue Mountain Community Foundation. Another partnership with the city of Walla Walla extended outreach through the form of civics education classes.

She worked also on behalf of numerous organizations and is an outgoing chairwoman of the Statewide Capacity Collaborative, a group of Washington state funders who work together to strengthen the nonprofit sector. She is also the newly appointed vice chairwoman for Whitman College’s President’s Advisory Board. In 2017, she was Philanthropy Northwest’s Ambassador of the Year for its six-state membership region.


Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.