An Interview with Mindy Goodall
Why did you decide to get involved with supporting your local police?
My husband served on the CPF board almost from its inception (2004) and would share with me the excellent work that the organization was doing to support our local officers in a variety of ways. So when he mentioned that they were looking to hire their first staff person in late 2009, I was excited to throw my hat in the ring. For the past 10 years, I have been honored to work with an amazingly talented and dedicated board of directors to lead the CPF in its mission.
What did your work as the Executive Director of the CPF look like for the past 10 years?
Many nonprofits have several staff members on hand to perform all the tasks that are necessary to run an organization. Since the CPF is a smaller group with a very specific mission to support the Charlottesville Police Department and Charlottesville community, we have an active volunteer board and a staff of...one! That means I was responsible for a variety of tasks, including raising funds for all of our programs, researching different training programs for officers, running many different events like Cops 4 Kids Day, making sure officers had information about our Officer Housing Program, writing newsletters, setting up and maintaining a database for tracking donations, and much more. Every day was different with this job, which is a big part of why it was exciting and engaging work still after 10 years.
Given the smaller size of the CPF, the interaction with the board of directors was also very hands-on. I enjoyed learning from them and gleaning from the diverse skill sets they possess. It’s a highly talented group of individuals who are dedicated to progress at the CPD and in the community, and I felt fortunate to have cultivated relationships with them.
Did any programs become your favorites over the years?
All of our programs are important and impactful in different ways, but a couple of programs stand out to me when I think over my tenure with the CPF. The Officer Housing Program is absolutely outstanding and has put Charlottesville on the map with other organizations around the country. Through the program, officers are eligible for a $20,000 grant to be used at closing for down payment assistance or closing costs. If the officer stays at the CPD and in the home as the primary residence for 5 years, no funds need to be paid back to the CPF. Not a dime. I can’t tell you the number of times other cities and towns have reached out to me to ask about this program and how they might start something similar for their police officers. I tell them to first find themselves an organization like the CACF (Charlottesville Area Community Foundation), who in 2009 awarded us their $75,000 Catalyst Grant to help, well, catalyze the program. The grant did just that and launched our ability to continue to raise additional support to fund 16 grants at $20,000 each - with 3 more approved for funding in 2020. I’m really proud of our efforts to help officers and their families be able to live in the community where they work. To me, that’s the type of community we should aspire to be - where our public servants don’t need to drive an hour to find affordable housing
The other program that stands out to me is no longer in existence, but the Teen Nights Program really highlights the creativity of the CPF and partnerships we have cultivated in the Charlottesville community. Back in the spring of 2011, our partners at the Boys & Girls Club were discussing with us and the CPD their desire to get kids and officers together on a more regular basis over the coming summer. When we found out that the Club was not open on Friday and Saturday nights over the summer due to budget constraints, the CPF offered to pay the bills to open the Club with staff and programming, and send plain-clothes officers over to do things like play ping-pong, watch movies, shoot hoops, and, my personal favorite, ride a mechanical bull with the kids. This partnership was brilliant on many levels, and it wasn’t lost on our officers or donors that these teens might have otherwise been interacting with officers on the downtown mall in a negative manner had this program not offered a positive alternative for them. It was a win-win for all.
What changes in your work have you seen over the past 10 years?
Many. Events around the nation definitely have had a local impact here in Charlottesville over the past 10 years, but the most significant changes happened in the past 2½ years since the summer of 2017. Everyone in the community and at the CPD was impacted by the events of that summer, and we are still feeling the effects today. Some officers left Charlottesville, while others left the profession of policing entirely. Members of the community have had a wide range of reactions to that summer, and I can honestly understand many of them. Being personally close to the men and women who serve as sworn officers and civilian personnel at the CPD, I have seen the toll that it takes on them to feel like they are often seen as the villians in the community. Yes, we have an imperfect criminal justice system that needs work, but one of the CPF’s goals is to help move the ball forward on this front in a variety of ways, including sponsoring excellent training classes and rewarding officers for exemplary service to the community. Progress is being made, and I have great hope for the future.
Anything else you'd like to share?
People often ask me if I’ve had a family member who was an officer, or where I found my passion for supporting the police. No, I don’t have any family members in this line of work, but I can tell a story about how my passion has grown for supporting the police. Soon after starting this work 10 year ago, I went on a ride-along with an officer. Sometime during our evening, he received a “Priority 1” call, which meant the siren and lights quickly switched on and we were speeding down Preston Avenue towards an armed robbery. When we arrived at the scene, my officer and others, along with a K9, ran into a dark building with their hands on their weapons, as I sat in the car petrified. All I kept thinking as the car was racing to the scene and as I sat in the dark is that I wished I was safe at home. And then I quickly realized that the reason I have a “safe at home” is because these officers are willing to do this dangerous work when someone calls 911. Every time. They show up, even when it means putting their lives in harm’s way for a stranger. Amazing. So while I never had the personal desire to be an officer, I realized I could support them through the CPF and make sure that they had top of the line and safe equipment, excellent training, appreciation for their work, connections to vulnerable members of our population who have had difficult experiences with the police in the past, and adequate housing options for their family in this community. My “safe at home” is not without a cost to our officers, and I will forever be grateful for the people who sacrifice every day and night to serve all of us in such a profound way.