Head of Fairfield County Community Foundation stepping down
Published 3:16 pm, Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Ross is the second person to lead the Norwalk-based philanthropic organization, which was formed in 1992 and provides charity advisory services and grants to Fairfield County nonprofits. Under Ross' leadership, the foundation's assets grew from $10 million to $140 million, and annual grants grew from about $900,000 to more than $11 million, said the organization's communications manager, Jeff Yates.
"I think the foundation is really well-positioned to accomplish even more in the years ahead, and it just seems like this is a good time to move on and do something else," Ross said Tuesday. "It's been a wonderful 15 years. Every day of it has been really rewarding."
Ross, an Easton resident, will remain president and CEO of the foundation through the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition for her successor, she said. A committee of board members will conduct a search in collaboration with the search firm Spencer Stuart.
Ross, who reflected briefly on her tenure at the foundation by phone Tuesday, said one of the biggest challenges the FCCF encounters is convincing the public that significant need exists amid the wealth of Fairfield County.
"The need here isn't so easy to see sometimes," Ross said. "I think a challenge we've had is helping people understand that there's a tremendous amount of need in our community and a tremendous amount of donors who want to address those needs."
Ross said education is the most critical issue facing the county and the nation right now.
"We're really not doing as good a job as we need to do to prepare young people for jobs of today and jobs of the future," she said. "If they're not prepared to be productive employees and responsible citizens, then many other problems will result."
Kiki Karpen, executive director of the Community Fund of Darien, said she has known Ross for seven years and worked with her on several philanthropic ventures. Karpen described Ross as a "poised and professional."
"She has served as a spokeswoman for nonprofits in our area, educating our community about needs and resources and encouraging cooperation and collaboration among agencies to better address those needs," Karpen said. "The fact that she has been a leader for 15 years -- if you just look at the record of the Fairfield County Community Foundation's role as a community advisor and grant maker, and the fact that it's grown significantly during her tenure, that's very impressive."