Sr. Georgette Lehmuth, OSF, one of the strongest voices for nonprofit fundraising and for religious service providers, will step down as president and chief executive officer of the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC).
She will leave the post in December 2019 and a national search for her successor will begin immediately with the goal of having the person in place by October 2019.
Lehmuth said that when her contract came up last year she opted for a shorter term than was being offered. “I said let’s do just two years,” according to Sr. Georgette. “I think what was mine to do for this organization I’ve done,” she said. This does not mean she is retiring. She is going to start her own search. “I don’t think I want to run an organization anymore but I do know how to raise funds,” she said.
Sr. Georgette has served in the role since July 2001. She joined NCDC during a time of great turmoil for the organization. George T. Holloway retired in 1999 after 28 years at the helm. That brought about interim leaders before Sr. Georgette took the job in 2001.
Sr. Georgette was on the executive leadership team of her order, The Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help of St. Louis, Mo., where she was also raising funds. She was a board member of NCDC for three years when the transitions began. She agreed to do the job for six months; meanwhile her order insisted that she could only do that if NCDC agreed to consider her for the permanent position if she liked the job.
What she’ll miss most about the job is the membership and to “proclaim to represent all the good stuff they do.”
She was a stern and strong voice when dealing with the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). In what is viewed by many as something just short of a miracle, in 2005 she met with then-Postmaster General John (Jack) E. Potter to discuss potentially devastating postal regulations that would have prevented charities from sending non-soliciting mail via nonprofit standard rate. The regulation change was dropped for charitable fundraisers, saving millions of dollars in potential postage increases.
That effort won her the admiration of the broader sector and her first of nine nods as an NPT Power & Influence Top 50 leader.
There was quick reaction to her announcement in the fundraising community. “I was saddened to learn that a stalwart champion of the nonprofit sector will be moving on at the end of 2019,” said Geoffrey W. Peters, president of MOORE DM Group Of Affiliated Companies. He called her “a consistent and successful leader, not only for Catholic charities but for the whole sector.”
Peters also cited her clashes on national issues in defense of the broader sector. “For the past 30-plus years I’ve been involved in quite a few skirmishes on behalf of the sector with the Post Office, the IRS, the FTC, and various state Attorneys General. Sr. Georgette has been a constant presence and one of the best friends of nonprofits we could ever have.”
Said Peters, “Sr. Georgette has been a force to be reckoned with by those who would hinder efforts to raise funds to help nonprofits accomplish their missions. Her voice will be sorely missed.”
The search committee will be made up of NCDC board members and others representative of the NCDC community. The committee is beginning its work now and further information regarding the position and how to apply will be forthcoming soon, according to the announcement. “I’ve had the pleasure to work with Sr. Georgette in several different capacities throughout her tenure as President/CEO of NCDC,” said Allison Hewitt, CFRE, CAP, chair of the NCDC board of directors via a statement. “Under her tutelage, NCDC has greatly advanced its mission and achieved new heights in our efforts to empower members to promote our common Gospel mission, inspire our communities and better our world. Sr. Georgette has been a passionate and tireless advocate on behalf of its members working collaboratively with other charities and organizations regarding issues and concerns that impact the industry. Sr. Georgette will be greatly missed at the helm of Catholic fundraising and in the nonprofit world.”