With deep gratitude for his six years of dedication and service, the board and staff of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation announce the departure of CEO Justin Maxson, who has accepted the position of USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development in the Biden-Harris Administration.
Since Maxson began at MRBF in 2015, the Foundation has deepened its commitment to infusing equity, particularly racial equity, into all its work, from grantmaking to investments, public communications to internal procedures. Under Maxson’s leadership, MRBF has leveraged relationships to target millions of dollars more than its grantmaking outlay to Southern communities. Examples include the Uplift America Partnership to direct more than $400 million to underserved rural counties, and a collaboration with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to address the pandemic’s impacts on the social determinants of health in Southern communities. As COVID began its devastation, the Foundation more than tripled its grantmaking to help grantee partners remain effective in a critical election and census year. Maxson leaves the Foundation strong and well positioned for its next chapter. The board and staff have an aligned vision for what is possible in the South and a wide breadth of experience and expertise.
“It has been an incredible privilege to support such good work across the South with such good people at the Foundation,” Maxson said. “In this challenging time, I am further convinced the opportunities to make lasting progress in the South are as strong as the challenges that face the region. The Babcock Foundation is a unique institution in the complicated field of philanthropy, and I will miss the people, our partners and the work terribly.”
Maxson will carry the values and ethos of the Babcock Foundation with him to the Department of Agriculture as he continues working to advance opportunity in rural communities. Rural Development is committed to improving the economy and quality of life in rural America through grants, loans and technical assistance in support of small business, housing and infrastructure like broadband, utilities and sewer and water.
The Foundation plans to name an interim director in the near term, then launch a search for a new CEO. During this leadership transition, the Foundation will continue making grants to advance its mission of helping people and places move out of poverty and achieve greater social and economic justice. The board and staff will continue to advocate for policies that better support low-wealth communities. And they will continue to explore new ways to increase equity and opportunity across the South.