Donors Forum Picks Weinheimer As New Boss

Eric Weinheimer, president and CEO of The Cara Program in Chicago, will become the president and CEO of Donors Forum, also in Chicago, on July 1. Weinheimer will replace Valerie Lies, who will retire at the end of June after 27 years as Donors Forum’s president and CEO.

“Donors Forum has created an inspiring and bold strategic plan that is exactly what is needed during these times of increased demands and dwindling resources,” said Weinheimer via a statement. “In addition to its traditional membership base, there is an opportunity to actively engage social entrepreneurs, businesses, civic leaders, public officials and policy experts into the organization’s work to ensure that nonprofit missions are supported and elevated here in Illinois. I am excited to lead this venerable organization into the next phase of its development.”

Weinheimer will become the third president and CEO in the organization’s 40-year history. Lies, who was selected to The NonProfit Times’ Top 50 Power and Influence in 2005 and 2012, announced in March 2013 her intention to retire. Though her retirement date is approaching, she said her work at Donors Forum is not quite done. “I feel a real commitment to making sure this organization is positioned as strongly as possible for Eric to jump in,” she said.

She was not involved in the selection process for her successor. “I was wonderfully surprised to get the call from the transition team,” Lies said. “I’m so excited about who my successor is. It’s really about how (Weinheimer) can bring his experience, the networks he has which are different than what we have — (in the realms of) social enterprise and entrepreneurial donors — and the opportunity to bring that experience into the strategic plan so that it has his stamp on it.”

Under Lies’ leadership, Donors forum grew from a Chicago-area association of grantmakers to a statewide association for the entire sector. “I am most proud of the fact that we’ve made this journey,” said Lies. “Shifting Donors Forum all these years to getting us involved in public policy, our leadership presence in (Illinois capital) Springfield and moving to being an association of grantmakers, nonprofits and advisers.”