Two completely unrelated events, linked only by the fact that they both occurred at the end of August, have significant implications for the work of the Council on Foundations and its members.
First, Dorothy S Ridings retired as the Council’s President and CEO on 31 August. Dot, as she is known to her many friends and admirers in the philanthropic field, joined the Council in 1996 and presided over a period of organizational growth, change and challenge in the foundation field. Her successor, Steve Gunderson, who joined the Council on 3 October, served for 16 years in the US House of Representatives and subsequently worked with The Greystone Group, a management and consulting firm, on issues such as youth development, AIDS and workforce investment.
The second event was Hurricane Katrina, which struck on 29 August. The costliest disaster in US history, it evoked a swift response from Council members. As of mid-October, they had donated more than $166 million towards relief efforts. In addition, the Council’s Board Chair Emmett Carson had been appointed to head the newly formed Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation for its initial three months. Disaster Grantmaking: A practical guide for foundations and corporations, a free publication developed by the Council on Foundations and European Foundation Centre in 2001, proved a useful resource for grantmakers responding to Katrina.
Katrina also loomed large at the Council’s 2005 Fall Conference for Community Foundations held on 19-21 September in Seattle, Washington. Ben Johnson, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, spoke at a conference session on ‘Rebuilding in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’, while the critical role of community foundations in mobilizing resources for disaster recovery as well as in convening government, non-profits and businesses to coordinate relief and rehabilitation activities became a theme of the conference – even as a new threat, Hurricane Rita, bore down on the Lousiana-Texas coast.
This column was written by Rob Buchanan, Director, International Programs, Council on Foundations. He can be contacted at email@example.com