From our board leadership to our staff structure, this year brings significant changes to the Foundation, though many important things will remain the same, including our mission, values, and commitment to racial equity and to the people and organizations that make the South better each day.
The biggest change is the retirement of Deputy Director Gladys Washington later this year. The Foundation has benefited mightily from 20 years of Gladys’ guidance, wisdom, energy and humor, and it is difficult to imagine “Miss Mary’s House” without her laughter ringing through the halls. While there is no replacing Gladys, we are working on ways to absorb the many responsibilities she carries. In May, we will begin the search process for a new program director with a commitment to social and economic justice, racial equity, the South and its people. We are also reworking our staff structure to ensure a smooth transition and increase shared leadership across the organization.
That includes promotion of Elena Conley to Senior Network Officer, effective February first. Elena has been with the Foundation for five years, first as associate network officer, then as network officer, managing several portfolios. Her new position gives her a seat on the management team and more supervisory duties, and she will help us onboard new program team members. With her deep knowledge of how the Babcock Foundation works, Elena will serve as a ballast as our program team navigates considerable changes.
Next month, we’ll begin the search for a new associate network officer to support some of the portfolios previously held by Gladys, Elena and former Program Director Lavastian Glenn, who left the Foundation last fall.
We also began this year with new board leadership. Laura Mountcastle takes over from Dr. James Mitchell as President, and Jerry Gonzalez takes over from Laura as Vice President. James’ and Laura’s tenure saw drastic changes for our country and region, and their strong leadership pushed the Foundation to respond boldly, increasing our grantmaking and speaking up for the communities we care about. We are deeply grateful to our board leaders past and present for their guidance, particularly in times of internal and external change.
To be clear, we are not shifting our funding strategies or geographic priorities, and we will remain focused on our grantee partners and the important work they do. Our goal is to make these transitions as seamless as possible for our partners, and we will continue to keep everyone apprised as the year unfolds.
Change is often hard. It can also open up opportunities for new leadership, growth and different perspectives. While there is much I will miss about the staff leadership the Foundation has been fortunate to have, we will work hard to lean into the upsides of the changes in front of us.
As always, don't hesitate to contact us with any questions.