Mary Kate Wilson, the new president of the Southern Oklahoma Memorial Foundation, Community Activities Inc. of Ardmore and Community Foundation of Ardmore, has spent most of her career working with nonprofits in some way or another.
The three organizations are intertwined and overseen by Wilson and a board of trustees. Southern Oklahoma Memorial Foundation is a grant-making organization that helps nonprofits within 50 miles of Ardmore. The other two are overseen by a common board that weighs those grants and decides whether or not to give money to those nonprofits. Wilson, who majored in public relations with a side of journalism training, helps local nonprofits write grants for the trustees to consider.
“Here, we don’t make those decisions,” Wilson said. “We visit with those nonprofits, help them make their best presentation and do the appropriate due diligence in order to allow the trustees to make a well-informed decision. What we do is provide assistance you wouldn’t normally find in a community of this size.”
Helping nonprofits try to secure funding is no small feat in Ardmore, where more than 70 nonprofits operate in the city alone, and Wilson, having worked and lived in the area most of her life, is well aware of it.
Originally from Sulphur, she started at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in 1997, just two weeks after earning her Bachelor’s.
“I’ve made this my home, and our family is established here now of course,” Wilson said. “The Noble Foundation afforded me a lot of opportunities that prepared me to be considered for this new role.
SOMF was created as a charitable trust in 1950. For the last 20 years, it’s functioned as a granting organization for nonprofits within 50 miles of Ardmore with a focus on health-related causes.
Community Activities Inc. of Ardmore focuses mainly on community projects like swimming pools and other projects for public use as well as scholarship funds.
The third organization, the Community Foundation of Ardmore, awards money to nonprofits tackling everything from education to youth programming.    
“One of my passions is helping nonprofits have the resources that are critical to our community. Whether that’s providing for those who need healthcare or supplementing educational programs or enriching the culture,” Wilson said. “It’s an area I’ve worked in my entire career, so having the opportunity to do that on a bigger scale and having the opportunity to contribute to making an impact is definitely what drew me to the position.That’s what’s always been so impressive to me, is how philanthropic this community is and how generous this community is.”
Before coming on as president, Wilson said she’s served on the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation and Community Activities. She said that through that role and during her time at the Noble Foundation, she’s worked with SOMF and its former president, Larry Pulliam, over the course of her 20 year career.
 Going forward, Wilson said she sees a need for change in the way nonprofits operate in Ardmore, as the city and its needs continue to grow.
“I think there are a lot of entities realizing we need to have a higher level of collaboration and partnerships that have not existed at that scale,” Wilson said. “The Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative is just one example, working to bring groups together to have a community-wide plan for how we address trauma and meet the needs of the community. I think the community is realizing that we’re growing and the needs are growing, so there’s going to be a need to be more efficient and collaborate on a higher level.”
She said for the time being, she’s focusing on the task at hand.
“We can’t be all things to all people,” Wilson said. “The needs always outweigh the available funds. It does take partnership and it often takes knowledge of other funding sources. There will be times we suggest they contact other foundations, or we develop a partnership and all come together to support a good cause.”