Monday, May 10, 2021

Person of the Week

Helping Guilford Foundation and More: Dee Lundberg


After serving the town for many years as chair of its Human Services Council, followed by six years as a member of the Guilford Foundation Board, Delaney “Dee” Lundberg and her husband, Bruce, have left a lasting gift to their hometown that will contribute to the future success of the foundation. Photo by Pam Johnson/The Courier

After serving the town for many years as chair of its Human Services Council, followed by six years as a member of the Guilford Foundation Board, Delaney “Dee” Lundberg and her husband, Bruce, have left a lasting gift to their hometown that will contribute to the future success of the foundation. (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

If anyone understands the exceptional work of the Guilford Foundation, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2020, its Delaney “Dee” Lundberg.

Last spring, a few months before stepping down from six years as a member the foundation board, Dee and her husband, Bruce, left a lasting gift to their hometown that will contribute to the future success of the foundation by establishing the Delaney Fund of the Guilford Foundation.

Dee, who headed up the foundation’s Governance Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the operation of the foundation, knew exactly how the Delaney Fund could help continue its mission of inspiring effective contributions to meet the diverse and changing needs of the community: by designating the fund’s use to support the work of the non-profit Guilford Foundation, itself.

“The Delaney Fund is there to fund operating expenses of the foundation,” says Dee, adding that, in her experience working with non-profits, “what I see is it’s hard, and sort of embarrassing, for non-profits to spend money on themselves. But if you want to help, actually some of the money should be spent on developing your own capacities.”

It Started Out with Trees

As an organization which is dedicated to making philanthropy “easy and effective” by enabling donors to contribute to community projects and efforts they care about the most, the work of Guilford Foundation has grown from a humble start in 1975 to become the significant non-profit organization it is today, while remaining dedicated to its mission of supporting the needs of the community, says Dee.

“It’s come a long way. I remember, it really started out with trees [and] I was aware of it at the time because I knew of Betty Stevens,” says Dee, who was a young mother when she and her husband moved to town in 1973.

The Lundbergs raised their four children in Guilford.

As noted at the Guilford Foundation website, “In 1975, Betty Stevens, Hugh Jones, Stanley Page, John Leffingwell, and Lawrence Appleton planted the seed that became The Guilford Foundation. The group began its work by organizing beautification efforts for the area around the Town Green. Their actions resulted in the creation of an endowment that raised money to plant and maintain trees in front of the stores on Whitfield Street facing the green. Soon after, the group was incorporated and The Guilford Foundation expanded its focus to include many other aspects of community life. This philanthropic attitude inspired other citizens to establish funds in the name of loved ones in order to answer the growing needs of the community and its residents.”

For Dee, it’s important to recognize the Guilford Foundation has not only grown in its core mission over the years, it has also grown a great deal in its reach, abilities, and community leadership. She attributes much of that success to a hardworking group of talented and dedicated board members and the able guidance of the foundation’s executive director, Liza Petra.

“It has grown a lot since I came on the board, and I think there’s kind of a synergy going on among the board members now,” says Dee, who helped recruit four new members as she was readying to end her second term. “It’s a great board and I see a new generation of people who are just as concerned and committed as I felt, and the people who I worked with, and those who came before us.”

Leadership and Vision

Besides accepting grants and responding to needs, the foundation has also become an organization that’s also providing leadership and vision to the community, Dee adds. She ticks off some recent examples, from inspiring the initiative to develop the town’s Rollwood Park property as affordable housing to greatly assisting the Women & Family Life Center with funding its recent facility renovation to providing seed money to help establish the first Guilford Performing Arts Festival (and continuing to provide significant support for the second festival in 2019). Another great initiative of the Guilford Foundation is its non-profit conference series, which is spearheaded by Petra.

“The foundation has been great in backing the not-for-profits in town. Liza runs The Non-Profit Conference and I think that’s extremely useful,” says Dee.

Established in 2016 as a joint effort of the Guilford Foundation, the Branford Community Foundation, and the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, the workshop series is there to help the shoreline’s wide variety of volunteer-driven leaders of non-profit organizations develop skills they need for their organization to succeed.

Dee is very familiar with the hurdles facing small humanitarian organizations working to help others. She served for 10 years as chair of Guilford’s Human Services Council, and stayed on for several more years after that, before stepping down.

“The council advises the selectmen and Board of Finance how to disperse funds to non-profits in town, so there is a lot of due diligence involved,” she adds. “You’re designating taxpayer money that will subsidize town services” by supporting the needs of the non-profits.

“So when I was on the council, I saw the balance sheets—these people do not make a lot of money. They need to be supported by the town or by the foundation,” says Dee.

In fact, it was Dee’s extensive knowledge and familiarity with so many of Guilford’s non-profits that caught the attention of the Guilford Foundation board and led to her decision to take up an invitation to join the board in 2013.

“I knew the picture of some of the needs in town, and I had been asked for a long time to come on the board because of this knowledge of non-profits,” says Dee, who joined the foundation after resigning from the council.

Dee also notes that, while she was dedicated to her work and support of the Human Services Council, she finally decided to step down because, although those who provide lengthy service to boards build up a wealth of expertise and knowledge to support the mission, “in my experience, the new broom is not a bad thing. It’s good to keep some experience, but a new person can bring a whole new perspective.”

Now that she’s stepped down from the foundation board, Dee, who retired 10 years ago as an adjunct English professor at Quinnipiac College and has since been concentrating on writing mysteries, is looking forward to spending more time with her husband and family and remaining an active and aware community member.

“We’ve raised four children here. It’s a wonderful place to raise children, and Guilford is also a very committed community,” says Dee.

She adds there will always be a need for supporting causes like those supported by the Guilford Foundation.

“Because it’s kind of storybook town, sometimes, the needs are less visible in a town like this,” she says. “But there are needs, at all levels.”

Pam Johnson covers news for Branford and North Branford for Zip06. Email Pam at

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