The board of directors of the Woods Fund Chicago has named lead program officer HINA MAHMOOD as interim president following the departure of GRACE HOU, who stepped down as president of the foundation earlier this year to serve as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services. As lead program officer at the foundation, Mahmood has led the development, implementation, and evaluation of grantmaking strategies. Prior to joining Woods in 2012, she served as an education organizer and coordinated infrastructure and social service for a northside Chicago alderman. She received a master's degree from the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration and undergraduate degree from Loyola University. Morten Group LLC, a national consulting firm, has been retained by the foundation to conduct a search for its next president.
On the eve of its seventy-fifth anniversary, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, has announced RAJIV VINNAKOTA as its next president. A graduate and former trustee of Princeton, Vinnakota has dedicated his career to educating, empowering, and supporting America's youth, particularly those from disadvantaged communities. His work as a co-founder of the SEED Foundation and head of the Youth and Engagement division at the Aspen Institute has earned him national recognition, fellowships from Echoing Green, the Ashoka Foundation and the Aspen Institute, and various awards, including Harvard University's Innovation in American Government Award, Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson Award, and Oprah Winfrey's Use Your Life award. He will join the foundation July 1, succeeding ARTHUR LEVINE, who, during his thirteen-year tenure, transformed it into a national leader in educator preparation and school improvement, particularly for high-need communities.
J. TOMILSON HILL has been elected to the board of trustees of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Hill is a private investor whose career over the last five decades has spanned both investment banking and the asset management business. After serving as co-president and co-CEO of Lehman Brothers from 1990 to 1993, he joined the Blackstone Group as a general partner and member of the management committee, served as president and CEO of Blackstone Alternative Asset Management for eighteen years, and most recently was the vice chair of Blackstone and served on its board of directors.
Following a national search, the Minnesota Council on Foundations has selected SUSAN (Susie) BROWN as president, effective April 22. Currently the chief operations officer for the newly merged Minnesota State Bar, Hennepin County Bar, and Ramsey County Bar Associations and Foundations, Brown has spent her career in the nonprofit sector. Before joining the Hennepin County Bar Association and Foundation as executive director, she served as public policy director at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and, prior to that, as executive director for Child Care Works. An active member of the community, Brown serves on the Community Advisory Council of the Greater Twin Cities United Way and on the boards of MACC: Metropolitan Alliance of Connected Communities and GrantAdvisor.
The board of the Kansas City Symphony has announced the selection of DANIEL E. BECKLEY as the symphony's next executive director, succeeding FRANK BYRNE, who is stepping down after nearly nineteen years. Since 2013, Beckley has served as vice president and general manager of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Before that, he served as executive director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina; as managing director of BlueKey Web Solutions in Charleston, a company he helped found; and as a public school orchestra director. He will assume the role of executive director on July 29.
The board of directors of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) in Durham, North Carolina, has named KAREEM CRAYTON as the organization's permanent executive director; he has served as the organization's interim director since January 2018. Dr. Crayton's work as an academic explores the relationship between race and politics in representative institutions. A native of Montgomery, Alabama, he is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and holds a PhD in political science as well as a law degree from Stanford University.
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop has announced the appointment of MICHAEL PRESTON as executive director, succeeding the Cooney Center’s founding executive director, MICHAEL LEVINE, who now serves as Sesame Workshop’s chief knowledge officer. Preston has more than twenty years’ experience leading innovation in educational technology at both local and national levels, with a focus on using technology to improve teaching and learning, drive student agency and interest, and create models for systemic change in both K-12 and university contexts. Most recently, he co-founded CSforALL, which began as an initiative of CSNYC, where Preston launched a ten-year partnership with New York City to provide high-quality computer science to every student in the nation’s largest public school system. CSforALL now helps other cities and regions across the country replicate the progress made in New York.
In other news, Bentz Whaley Flessner (BWF), a global fundraising consultancy, has announced that JOSHUA BIRKHOLZ, an eleven-year principal at the firm, will succeed BRUCE FLESSNER as CEO. Flessner, company founder and principal, is stepping down from his role and leaving the firm after thirty-six years of service. Birkholz, an author and leader in big philanthropy, is recognized for his work in the integration of data science with nonprofit development and oversees several BWF service lines. "BWF was privileged to have Bruce's tireless commitment to the nonprofit community for thirty-six years,” said the firm’s leadership team in a statement. “We will always be proud of the mark he made on philanthropy, the organization he helped found, and the legacy he leaves with the consulting profession. Although it is hard to see one of our leaders go, especially one with such talents, we wish him the best for the years ahead."