The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region (CFGCR) has announced that Karen Bilowith, President and CEO, will leave CFGCR in January 2016 to become President and CEO for the Idaho Community Foundation.
Jackie Mahoney, CFGCR’s Vice President of Programs, will serve as interim CEO beginning in January 2016.
CFGCR’s Board of Directors is currently forming a search committee and developing a position description in anticipation of a national search. More details will be shared when they become available.
“While I am excited to begin a new adventure in Idaho, I am truly sad to leave the Capital Region and our local Community Foundation, said Bilowith. “In my time here, I’ve been privileged to work with the most generous, thoughtful, intelligent and caring members of our community. From donors and partners, to nonprofit staff and volunteers, to beneficiaries of the Foundation’s work, there has not been a single day when I haven’t been reminded of the amazing generosity of this community.
“It’s been an honor to work with the staff and Board of the Community Foundation,” continued Bilowith. “They have been my invaluable advisors, partners and friends. Although it’s difficult to leave so many talented, caring and skilled people, I know the Community Foundation will continue to strengthen our community after I leave.”
“We’re very sad to see Karen leave” said Ellen Sax, Chair, CFGCR Board of Directors. “She’s been a true leader and a tireless champion for the greater Capital Region. Under Karen’s stewardship, the Community Foundation has achieved unprecedented growth which has enabled it to significantly expand its investment in the well-being of our community. The positive effect of her work will be felt for many years. She’s accomplished so much, and the Capital Region is a much better place because of her extraordinary service. We will miss her greatly, and wish her the very best in Idaho.”
Bilowith has served as President & CEO of the Community Foundation since 2009. In that time, she has helped grow the charitable assets under management from $43 million to $65 million, and has grown the grantmaking/scholarship distributions from $3 million annually to $4.2 million (in 2014).
Through her role on the Governor’s Capital Region Economic Development Council, she has helped lead the Creative Economy project/Regional Alliance for a Creative Economy (RACE), which is working to leverage the region’s abundant cultural assets to drive economic growth for all sectors of our community. Her leadership was essential to RACE’s recent winning of a $1 million national grant for a transformative temporary public art project that will address urban revitalization.
In her role at the Community Foundation, Bilowith was responsible for leading the organization in bringing our community together to address shared issues through thoughtful philanthropy. She excelled at working with donors to meet their philanthropic goals, bringing nonprofit organizations together to have a greater impact in addressing common goals and issues, and convening leaders from the nonprofit, for-profit, governmental and private sectors to develop and implement long-term solutions to some of our region’s most pressing needs.
Bilowith was instrumental in helping sculpt and fund several iterations of Union Graduate College’s Nonprofit Leadership Development Institute, which trained nonprofit leaders in business skills and brings them together monthly to explore common issues and develop partnerships to increase their impact and decrease programmatic and operational costs. Under Bilowith’s leadership, the Community Foundation has also developed the Capacity Building Mini-Grant Program. This program, which began in 2014 and is currently having its second round, brings together nonprofit executive directors, their board members, funders and educators from the New York Council on Nonprofits for educational sessions on capacity-building, management, board development/relations and more. At the conclusion of the program, nonprofits are eligible for small grants to fund capacity-building activities. In 2014, more than 50 organizations participated in the program, and more than $40,000 was awarded in capacity-building grants.
Karen served as President and Chief Professional Officer for United Way of Schenectady County, as well as serving as senior program officer for the National AIDS Fund in Washington, D.C. She has also previously served in roles at the American Red Cross and the Denver Zoological Foundation. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado, a bachelor’s in economics from Boston College, and is a graduate of CF Leads’ Executive Leadership Institute. Karen is a past president of the board of United Way of New York State, and in addition to her work on the Capital Region Economic Development Council, she serves on the Saratoga-Capital District Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission of NYS. She is also a founding member of the Women’s Fund of the Capital Region, and is a member of the Forum for Executive Women. In 2013, Karen was honored by KeyBank with the Key4Women Achieve Award.