Gunderson To Leave Council On Foundations

Calling it “the right time for a transition,” Council on Foundations (CoF) President and CEO Steve Gunderson announced today that he will step down Sept. 1 after six years on the job.

“We are very grateful to Steve for all he has done, especially steering our association through perilous economic times and for bringing global vision to council initiatives,” said Carol Larsen, chair of the Council’s board of directors. The board will appoint an interim president and CEO by September.

Board members Kevin Murphy of the Berks County Community Foundation and Judy Mohraz of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust will co-chair a search committee to find a permanent replacement. Gunderson has agreed to consult for the council as the committee searches for a new president and CEO.

The 60-year-old Gunderson succeeded Dorothy Ridings in 2005 as president and CEO after eight terms in Congress as a Republican representing Wisconsin’s 3rd District. Ridings had been president since 1996.

“Some will tell you there is never a good time for transition in leadership. I don’t agree,” Gunderson wrote in a 480-word open letter posted today on the council’s website. “After a series of conversations with the Board Leadership, I have concluded that this is the right time for a transition in the leadership of the Council, and the right time for me to begin the next chapter of my professional service,” he wrote, without elaborating further.

During his tenure, Gunderson shepherded the coalition of 1,750 foundations through a move from its Washington, D.C. headquarters to a new facility in Arlington, Va., while adding 100 members the past two years and maintaining strong retention rates. Gunderson was named to The NonProfit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 in each of the past five years.

Among other notable accomplishments, board members cited his role in the launching the Global Philanthropy Leadership Initiative, significantly expanding and enhancing the CoF’s leadership role in government relations as the public policy voice of philanthropy, his support for the philanthropy sector’s commitment to diversity, and his advocacy of environmental responsibility as evidenced by the council’s new LEED-certified office building that’s expected to save members $3 million energy costs during the term of the lease.

“All indications are that we will look back on 2011 as an incredible year of progress for the Council on Foundations,” Gunderson said. “I’m confident the board will identify and appoint a new leader who will sustain our momentum and propel the council to new levels of greatness.”