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September 21, 2022

GWCF names interim CEO as search continues following ex-leaders’ abrupt exits

Photo | Courtesy Greater Worcester Community Foundation Tim Johnstone has been named Greater Worcester Community Foundation interim CEO.

The Greater Worcester Community Foundation on Wednesday named Tim Johnstone as its interim president and CEO while the GWCF board of directors continues its search to find a full-time CEO following Jim Ayers resignation from the $200-million foundation after five months on the job.

“While we evaluate the field of candidates for the foundation’s CEO position, we are extremely grateful to have Tim step into this interim position,” Christopher Collins, chair of the board, said in a press release. “His knowledge of both the Central Massachusetts nonprofit and philanthropic landscapes is not only invaluable; but will be instrumental in helping our internal teams and the foundation as a whole grow its support of the greater Worcester community in more strategic and significant ways.”

Johnstone is the president and CEO of Johnstone Advantage Consulting Group, and previously worked as the chief operating officer for Worcester nonprofit Ascentria Care Alliance. He also works with Interim Executive Solutions in Newton, which helps corporations navigate leadership changes.

GWCF has been looking for a new CEO since Ayers quit on June 3 after a short time as its leader, due to personal reasons. He started in his role as CEO on Jan. 3, when he replaced Barbara Fields, who left the foundation in March 2021 after 18 months as president and CEO.

Board Chairwoman Carolyn Stempler worked as the interim CEO between Fields’ resignation and Ayers’ hiring. Before that, Ann Lisi served as the foundation’s leader since 1992.

After Ayers left, GWCF appointed Kelly Stimson, vice president of donor services and relations; Diane Allain, vice president of finance and administration; and Jonathan Cohen, vice president of programs and strategy, as its interim leaders. 

Collins told the Worcester Business Journal in June both Ayers’ and Fields’ abrupt exits were not because of issues at GWCF. Instead, the issues were with the two people the foundation hired to lead the nonprofit. Now, it needs to find the right person to lead, again. To do that, the foundation has hired Chicago executive search firm Kittleman & Associates, which specializes in recruiting CEOs for nonprofits, to work alongside a search committee. 

“The foundation has learned a lot about itself over the last few years,” Collins said in the press release. “Our search committee has revised the requirements for the foundation’s top leadership position, and we feel confident that the next CEO will be a strategic, impassioned individual with detailed knowledge of the Greater Worcester community - and well established local networks.”

According to annual reports, the GWCF community fund surpassed $200 million in assets for the first time last year. The nonprofit works to help and support nonprofits in Central Massachusetts. It was established in 1975 and has awarded more than $158 million in funding to different organizations in the region.

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