Few foundations have had as big an impact on the people and institutions of their region as is the case with the JF Maddox Foundation. Based in the southeasternmost county of the state, the Foundation has had a quiet, pervasive influence on Lea County and its 70,000 residents for almost six decades.
The JF Maddox Foundation was established in 1963 by Jack and Mabel Maddox, transplants from central Texas who moved to Hobbs, NM in 1931, where Jack enjoyed significant success, initially in the utility industry and later in banking, real estate and gas pipeline operations. Jack Maddox was an astute businessman and a generous civic leader, with special interest in youth programs and higher education.
The Foundation was a vehicle for their personal charity, and it was a primary beneficiary upon their deaths (Jack in 1978 and Mabel in 1987). Because the Maddoxes had no children, leadership of the Foundation fell to Jack’s brother, Donovan, and Donovan’s two sons, Don and Jim, both of whom have lived in Hobbs since the late 1960s and collectively raised five children there.
These five children, the third generation of Maddoxes, now shepherd the Foundation. While none of the third generation still lives in Hobbs, all of them grew up there, and their commitment to Hobbs and Lea County is unwavering—and formalized in the Foundation’s strategy, updated in 2019.
Today, the JF Maddox Foundation has assets of just over $250 million, a heritage of impactful engagement and a near-final draft of its RoadMap to 2030, the Foundation’s vision for the next decade. The Foundation’s grants continue to vary in size, approach and desired outcomes, but all embrace the potential for significant benefit to the residents and institutions of Lea County, New Mexico.
The Foundation’s CEO for the past quarter century has been Bob Reid, an executive steeped in business and nonprofit management who had never run a foundation before moving to Hobbs at the Maddox family’s invitation. Since joining the Foundation in the mid-1990s, Bob has brought structure and strategy to the Foundation’s grantmaking, and his leadership has helped inspire both the staff and the larger community to expect great things of each other.
In September 2019, Bob announced his plans to retire as CEO by the end of 2020, thus prompting the search for his successor.
The next CEO of the JF Maddox Foundation will be joining at a propitious time. The work of transitioning from family to professional management has been accomplished, as has the transition to the third generation of family governance.
The infrastructure is strong and well established, yet always subject to improvement. The strategic direction—RoadMap to 2030—has been agreed upon and is all but ready to be put into action. The strategic plan is meant to be the compass, not the specific route to follow, and targets of greatest opportunity for grants will be the subject of continued discovery and discussion.
Board of Directors, JF Maddox Foundation
The next CEO will inherit a surprisingly straightforward mandate, given the Foundation’s scale and sophistication:
Ensure stability. The current CEO celebrates his 25th anniversary with the Foundation this month. Accordingly, none of the staff and few leaders in the community have worked with any other head of the Foundation. For the next CEO, managing the transition with grace and sensitivity while establishing one’s own identity in the new context will be critical to long-term success—not because the parties are resistant, but because they’ve never been through this precise process before.
Promote leadership. As one board member put it, “We’re changemakers and thought-leaders, and we work with a variety of institutions and people to assist us in our work, from progressive foundations to first-rate money managers to the night-shift manager at Walmart, all of whom know us.” Providing and promoting leadership across such a spectrum requires a nuanced balance of self-confidence and humility.
Know the family. Family foundations are a special niche, and the Maddox family is a special family. Many foundations on the cusp of their fourth generation of family involvement will have succumbed to the temptation to spread their giving to minimize (or mend) family jealousies, diversifying geographic focus in response to the inevitable dispersal of family members to the point that real impact becomes elusive.
The JF Maddox Foundation has taken the opposite tack, having reaffirmed its commitment to Lea County, where the founding donor thrived and two succeeding generations lived. With the nearest family Director living 300 miles from Hobbs, the Foundation must be a staff-driven grantmaker. It is thus critical for the CEO to understand the family—its history, its choices and its make-up—and to develop a relationship of respect and confidence with each member.
An additional priority whose importance will increase over time is providing the mechanisms and mentoring to embrace emerging fourth-generation family members in the Foundation’s work. Unlike their parents, all of whom grew up in Hobbs, none of the fourth generation has such direct ties to Lea County.
There are currently five Maddoxes in the fourth-generation, ranging in age from 18 months to 21 years. At age 21, a lineal descendant of Donovan Maddox becomes an Associate, with more formal involvement in the Foundation’s affairs. Two members of the fourth generation turned 21 in 2019, and thus both are now Associates; a third will become an Associate upon turning 21 in 2022.
There are well developed strategies in place for engaging the fourth generation beginning at age 18, strategies in which the CEO is actively engaged. Instilling a passion for the Foundation’s work, and perpetuating the individual commitment to sustain that work, will be critical to long-term success.
Collaborate. Some foundations want to be the source of right answers. By contrast, the JF Maddox Foundation wants to be sure to ask the right questions. The CEO must not just be willing to collaborate, s/he must insist on it, recognizing that “We can do together what one of us cannot do alone.” That spirit of collaboration requires openness, vulnerability and patience, but it also adds to community buy-in, whether the community be the staff, the board or the whole of Lea County.
The Foundation’s search committee and board are open to a variety of career paths, and they intend to be creative in their assessments. Grantmaking experience per se is not a prerequisite, but sensitivity to community dynamics is critical, as is a record of excellence in a collaborative environment.
The next CEO of the JF Maddox Foundation must be a leader who embodies the collective passion for impact and progress in Lea County, embraces the lifestyle of southeastern New Mexico and shares the vision of “a place we are all proud to call home.”
The ideal candidate will be an executive with demonstrated success leading a catalytic community, or community-based organization, through changes necessary to achieve sustainable progress towards ambitious goals.
Commensurate with experience.
For a full leadership profile please visit www.boardwalkconsulting.com
How to Apply
For potential consideration or to suggest a prospect, please email
or call Patti Kish or Sam Pettway at