The twelve months that ended on December 31 were noteworthy for the large number of foundation executives who stepped down from their positions or announced their decision to retire in the coming year. They included Greg Chaillé (Oregon Community Foundation), Feather Houstoun (William Penn Foundation), Margaret McKenna (Walmart Foundation), Aryeh Neier (Open Society Foundations), Gara LaMarche (Atlantic Philanthropies), Richard C. Leone (Century Foundation), Paul Brest (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation), Thomas Aschenbrener (Northwest Health Foundation), Karen Davis (Commonwealth Fund), Lance Lindblom (Nathan Cummings Foundation), and Gary Yates (California Wellness Foundation).
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy, saw two significant departures in 2011: In February, Tachi Yamada, president of the foundation's global health program for the past five years, announced his decision to step down in June along with an interest in doing something "substantial" in his native Japan; and in October, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, founding president of the foundation's global development program, announced her decision to join the Walmart Foundation as president, effective at the beginning of the year.
The Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation also saw significant changes at the leadership level. In March, Knight announced the appointment of Eric Newton, head of the foundation's journalism program for the past ten years, as senior adviser to president Alberto Ibargüen, and of Michael Maness, most recently vice president of innovation and design for Gannett, as vice president of its restructured journalism and media innovation program. It also promoted Mayur Patel to the position of vice president of strategy and assessment, reporting directly to Ibargüen. In mid-July, the foundation named veteran journalist Michael A. Silver as director of Northwestern University's Knight News Innovation Laboratory. And in December the foundation named Andrew Sherry as vice president of communications, effective January 9.
And the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation caused some excitement at the end of the year with the announcement that Daniel Socolow, who has directed the MacArthur Fellows (a/k/a "genius grants") program for fifteen of its thirty years, plans to step down next July.
PND also noted the passing of several major philanthropists and philanthropic leaders in 2011. In March, Brian O'Connell, founding president of Independent Sector, passed away at the age of 81. Another giant in the field, Robert Payton, co-founder of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and the first full-time professor of philanthropic studies in the country, died in May.
In August, Ruth Caplan Perelman, a trustee of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Education Foundation as well as several other cultural and educational institutions, passed away at the age of 90, just months after she and her husband announced a gift of $225 million to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Also in August, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation paid its final respects to Creed Black, who served as president and CEO of the foundation from 1988 to 1999 and oversaw its development into a major philanthropic enterprise.
November saw the deaths of John Randolph Hearst, Jr., grandson of media titan William Randolph Hearst and a director of the Hearst Foundations; Evelyn Lauder, daughter-in-law of cosmetics magnate Estée Lauder, founder and chair of the the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and one of the recipients of this year's Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy; and larger-than-life financier and philanthropist Theodore J. "Ted" Forstmann, who helped pioneer leveraged buyouts in the 1980s and coined the phrase "barbarians at the gate" during the buyout craze of the 1990s.
The year ended on a sad note with the passing of Margaret Mahoney, a luminary in the world of health philanthropy, on December 22. President of the Commonwealth Fund from 1980 until 1995, Mahoney was the first woman to head a major U.S. foundation. "The models she conceived for the role of foundations in effecting change continue to influence grant making around the U.S. today," said current Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis. "It was inspiring to follow in her footsteps, and to build on the wonderful foundation she constructed at the Commonwealth Fund. She will be missed."
Community Foundation Update (1/22/11)
Walmart Foundation Announces New President (10/15/11)