Frank Edmonds ’87: Stewarding the Lifeblood of the School
Over the past decade Frank Edmonds ’87 has served on the boards of many institutions, including St. Anne’s-Belfield School (STAB), where he chaired the board, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School Foundation, Virginia Athletics Foundation, and Jefferson Scholars Foundation.
While each of those responsibilities has been a meaningful opportunity, he particularly enjoyed the nine years he spent as a member of Woodberry’s board of trustees.
“What makes it so special is that it’s all about people,” he said. “I still remember the first board event I went to, and my wife, Pam, was seated between Lawrence Gray ’82 and Sion Boney ’74. At the end of the night, she couldn’t stop talking about how much fun they had and how she looked forward to the next meeting. Serving as a trustee at Woodberry is all about rekindling old relationships and building new ones.”
Frank’s tenure on the board coincided with the beginning of Byron Hulsey’s time as headmaster. It was a reunion for them both, as Frank was a year behind Byron at both Woodberry and the University of Virginia. And before Frank’s board tenure ended, he was joined as a trustee by his sixth-form roommate, Harley Garrison ’87, who was Byron’s successor as senior prefect.
“It’s special that these friendships are able to carry on for decades after graduation,” Frank noted. Frank came to Woodberry from Franklin in Virginia’s Southside region. His parents, unhappy with the effort he was putting into school at home, told him he was going away to boarding school, but gave him a choice of which school to attend.
“Thank goodness they told me I had to go away to school,” Frank recalls. “The teachers knew me so well at Woodberry. Richard MacKenzie was one of the most transformative people in my life, because he had high expectations for me and let me know that.”
Frank was reminded of the deep level of care Woodberry’s teachers show for their students when his father died about fifteen years ago. While going through his dad’s papers, Frank found letters and comments teachers like Jack Glascock, Dennis Manning, and Bob Smethurst had sent home.
“I was a guy from a small town who needed someone to push him,” Frank said. “I appreciate that those teachers did that for me, and that’s why I want to give back to Woodberry. It’s also why I’m so involved at STAB — because I’ve seen the impact teachers can make on a person’s life.”
Frank has spent most of his professional career in asset management. While on the Woodberry board he served on the investment committee, including as chair of the committee during the economic turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frank said the investment committee has always paid careful attention to risk-adjusted returns, noting that, while a private investment fund or a foundation can choose to delay withdrawals during market downturns, a school endowment must deliver a steady stream of cash to support operations. There is often greater demand for endowment income during a downturn, in fact, as the need for tuition assistance increases.
Thanks to years of thoughtful planning by the investment committee and the school’s finance team, led by Ace Ellis and Kenny Deane, the endowment had enough liquidity to meet the school’s needs during the initial phase of the pandemic, allowing the committee to stick with its long-term investment strategy and realize strong returns as the economy recovered. Frank says the extremely detailed data and modeling on the portfolio that Ace and Kenny provided were a huge asset as the committee made decisions.
“In many ways the endowment is the lifeblood of the school,” Frank said. “We’re caring for what people have given over the past one hundred years because they love the school.”