Meet Xavier Verna


Xavier Verna

Major Gifts Officer | (231) 941-6584 x701

In his role as Major Gifts Officer, Xavier Verna sees his mission as connecting the passions and interests of supporters to the work of Groundwork. “I love meeting people who want to help the cause,” he says. “That is the fuel to the fire for me.”

From the age of 1 to 12 years, Xavier lived in Puerto Rico, then the Washington, D.C., suburbs, attended college in Ann Arbor, and ultimately married and moved to be near his wife’s family orchard in Onekama, Michigan. Now, surrounded by orchard country and enjoying weekly fresh produce from a local CSA, Xavier has vivid daily reminders of the importance of Groundwork’s Food & Farming work. He needs to look no farther than around his dinner table to see the importance of supporting family farms by building strong local food economies. The diverse set of people and locales Xavier has experienced throughout his life gives him the perspective needed to understand and connect broadly, so essential for his role.

When Xavier was considering working at Groundwork, the 10 Cents a Meal program, in particular, spoke to him. Being in a farm community he instantly saw the good of rerouting millions in school food dollars to local farmers. “It sustains community in so many ways, and the best thing is it feeds kids with local food,” he says. And that’s the kind of multi-layered systems-change thinking that has built Groundwork from the start.

Good to know


Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance (Percussion), with K-12 Teacher Certification, University of Michigan; Philanthropic Fundraising Graduate Certificate,

Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

In his spare time ...

Xavier loves to spend time with his kids. "That is a joy for me. And I love to play music and to teach music," he says. He teaches Monday nights at West Shore Community College, where he started a drumline program.

Favorite spots in Michigan

Yellow Dog Cafe in Onekama. "It's an awesome little coffee shop.”

Why the prop?

“My prop is a bunch of drumsticks," Xavier says. "They speak of how music and arts and culture are in my life wherever I go. As long as I am teaching and playing music, I feel balanced.”

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