CFLeads Snapshot: May

CFLeads Snapshot: May
May was a particularly exciting month for CFLeads as we welcomed our new CEO! We also hosted a conversation between community foundations and the U.S. Dept of Ed and wrapped up our latest ELI for VPs cohort.

Welcoming Mary L. Thomas

The CFLeads staff, board members and community were excited to welcome our new President & CEO, Mary L. Thomas onboard!

Mary’s first week included an in-person staff advance at the CFLeads offices in Boston. The team spent time getting to know each other, with exceptional facilitation from Dr. Katrina Hutchins at Re-Source Solutions. We also used this in-person time together to start identifying priorities in our new business plan, which was developed in collaboration with the leading nonprofit consulting group, Bridgespan, and informed by the community foundation field.

This plan seeks to reach more community foundations and offer tailored learning opportunities to help support the field and strengthen community foundations’ capacity to do more community leadership.

Mary is committed to hearing from the field as we implement our business plan. To contact her, please reach out at or 617-854-3542.

Events & Programs

Early Learning with the U.S. Department of Education

In May, we had the pleasure of hosting ‘Early Learning with the U.S. Department of Education,’ a briefing and conversation with the U.S. Department of Education about the Pre-K-3 strategy they have been developing. Additionally, community foundations shared what they are doing to advance early childhood education in their communities.

Thank you to our wonderful speaker, Swati Adarkar, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning at the US Department of Education. We would also like to thank the several community foundations that spoke during the call about their local challenges.

Executive Leadership Institute

Three photos each with people standing together in a group, posing for a picture. One is with people sitting around a conference table.

ELI for VPs discuss organizational culture and community leadership

For their final meeting, the ELI for VPs 2022-23 cohort met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and were generously hosted by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation! Participants reviewed their results from completing the Community Leadership Assessment Tool, spoke about shifting organizational culture to advance community leadership practice and reflected on their time together as a group.

The cohort also heard from Simeon Banister, President & CEO of Rochester Area Community Foundation, about Rochester’s work to advance racial equity and reduce poverty and how it has been shaped over the years.

Please join us in congratulating the 2022-23 ELI for VPs cohort! We wish you well in your community leadership journey, and are excited to support you in your next phase:

Connecting Communities in the Americas

Connecting Communities in the Americas (CCA) hosted colleagues from the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development in the Virgin Islands at the May Peer Resource Sharing session. The foundation shared their goals, strategies, and learnings about promoting equitable, place-based philanthropy through their three-day retreat on the island of St. Croix last February, titled The Power of Place.

They also discussed how partnerships with local nonprofits such as the Foundation for Appalachia Kentucky, the Black Belt Community Foundation, and other supporters led to amazing results and learnings.


CFLeads announces Danielle Allen as the Fall Forum keynote speaker

In May, we were thrilled to announce that Danielle Allen, a seasoned leader, public policy expert, and distinguished academic and author will be the keynote speaker at our Fall Forum, taking place on October 26 – 27 in Fort Myers, Florida!

Ms. Allen currently works at Harvard University as a professor and the Director of Harvard’s Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics. She is a contributing columnist for The Washington Post and co-Chair of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, which published the bipartisan report, Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century.

As an experienced thought leader, Ms. Allen will talk to our community foundation audience about how community philanthropy can play a role in bridging impasses and strengthening our democracy.

If you are interested in attending but are not an investor, please visit the Support Our Work page to learn more or email us at