Responding to Change in the Community

It’s fair to say that James D. “Jim” Summers is a “numbers guy.” As such, he has a unique understanding of the role The Community Foundation of Frederick County plays in preserving the area’s quality of life—today, tomorrow, and in perpetuity.

Mr. Summers’ career in public accounting spans five decades. He is a certified public accountant (CPA) and a certified valuation analyst with accreditations in business valuation and financial forensics. Currently a partner with the public accounting firm Summers & Summers CPAs, LLC, he specializes in working with individuals, businesses, estates, and trusts. He is also an active community volunteer and has served as a trustee of the Community Foundation since 2016 and as its treasurer since 2017.

“As an accountant, I know the value of endowed funds to long-term financial planning,” said Mr. Summers. “Having money saved that generates income over a long period of time is invaluable, and that same concept is the basis of a community foundation. The fact that we have had an organization that facilitates and pools donations to address community needs and support local nonprofits as expertly as the Community Foundation has done for the past 34 years is of tremendous importance and value.”

Mr. Summers said he and his wife, Dr. Elly Williams, have been familiar with the Community Foundation for many years. “If you’re an accountant in Frederick County, the Community Foundation is at least on your radar,” he said. “The organization was not only co-founded by Donald C. Linton, CPA, one of the area’s best known and most highly-regarded members of our local accounting community, it’s also one of the most respected resources for professional financial advisors.”

Mr. Summers, who has served on the Community Foundation’s Professional Advisor Council since 2016 and has been its chair since October of 2019, says the group facilitates connections among accountants, advisors, attorneys, and other like-minded professionals so they can better serve charitably inclined individuals. Its seminars and other resources, he said, are always accurate, well done, and helpful to professionals and clients alike.

Over the years, Mr. Summers said he has learned a lot about the local nonprofits that have received grant support from Community Foundation funds. As a trustee, he said, he has had the opportunity to make site visits to the campuses of these nonprofits to see these donated dollars in action.

“It’s gratifying to see how creatively these organizations leverage the grants they receive from the Community Foundation and how many lives they are able to impact in real and profound ways,” he said. “For me, this is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things we do.”

Through these regular site visits, Mr. Summers said he has had the opportunity to see the power of the Community Foundation’s grants when they are distributed according to the areas of the greatest community need, an observation that has helped shaped his and his wife’s philanthropy. In addition to their widespread support of a variety of scholarship funds and the Widening Circles Society since 2000, they have also become enthusiastic supporters of The Forever Frederick County Fund.

Launched in 2019 with the campaign fundraising piece concluded in mid-2021, Forever Frederick County was a $20 million effort to build an unrestricted endowment fund to provide grants for our community’s greatest needs, as identified by future Frederick County Human Needs Assessments. Mr. Summers was one of the Community Foundation’s trustees who helped lead the effort, and he and Dr. Williams made a gift to the campaign that, along with the contributions and pledges of hundreds of others, helped move this groundbreaking campaign forward.

“My family was amongst the earliest settlers in Frederick County, and I was fortunate enough to grow up in Jefferson,” said Mr. Summers. “I’ve seen how the county has changed. Some of those changes were predictable, while others were completely unexpected. That trend is bound to continue, so having an unrestricted fund to address those issues made sense to Elly and me.”

“I’m really proud of how generously this community responded to the Forever Frederick County Campaign,” said Mr. Summers. “A lot of that support came during the COVID-19 pandemic when many people were finding life to be uncertain. And yet we still exceeded our goal—and that speaks highly of this community and the people who live here.”