Central New York Community Foundation Brings Upstate Native Home to be New CEO
February 12, 2008 (Syracuse, NY) – The Central New York Community Foundation has hired a nationally-recognized development expert from one of the nation’s largest community foundations as its new President and Chief Executive Officer.
Peter A. Dunn, currently Vice President of Philanthropic Services for the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles, will come home to Upstate New York to succeed Peggy Ogden. Ogden, 61, has led the local organization for more than 20 years. Last summer, she announced her plans to retire this June. During her tenure, both the Community Foundation’s endowment and presence in the Central New York area have grown dramatically. Today, the local foundation is steward to more than $120 million in assets, making it the largest charitable resource in Central New York.
“Peggy did a superb job building up the reputation and assets of the foundation, and leading it to a more robust engagement with community issues,” Board Chairman Anne Messenger said. “Peter will bring the experience, knowledge and leadership qualities we need to meet new challenges in the community and in philanthropy. He has a passion for Upstate New York and is widely respected in the community foundation world.”
Dunn, 42, is known among community foundation leaders in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and throughout the nation due to his extensive teaching and speaking in the field, and for his work in California, especially in the area of foundation development. The California Community Foundation is the sixth-largest in the U.S., with assets of more than $1.3 billion. His experience in the field goes even deeper. Before he joined the California Community Foundation in 1996, Dunn was Program Coordinator for Community Foundation Services with the Council on Foundations, the national association of philanthropic foundations, based in Washington, D.C. He started his non-profit career as a fundraiser for the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County in 1993.
It is a homecoming in several ways for Dunn and his family. He and his wife, Brigid Farrell Dunn, both grew up in the Buffalo area and still have family there. Dunn obtained his law degree from the University of Buffalo Law School after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. His wife received her undergraduate degree from LeMoyne College — “with fond memories of her time in Syracuse,” Dunn said. She went on to Yale Divinity School for a master’s degree. They have two children, ages 4 and 2, and live in San Gabriel, CA.
“Brigid and I are excited about moving back to Upstate New York,” Dunn said. “For us, even though we’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for almost a dozen years, Upstate New York has always been home – it has always been the place we return to each year and where we have the deepest roots. I’m amazed at the work of Peggy Ogden and the staff and board members at the Central New York Community Foundation.”
Dunn will visit Syracuse in early March to meet staff and board members. He will begin his duties in early April, spending two-thirds of his time in Syracuse while his wife honors her teaching contract in California. He will take the helm full-time in Syracuse in June.
Central New York Community Foundation Board Vice Chairman Jeff Rubenstein led a search committee composed of current board members and several former board chairmen. The committee received more than 60 applications from around the country and interviewed half a dozen finalists before hiring Dunn. “Peggy’s generosity in providing plenty of advance notice, and the enormous contribution of time and resources from each of the 14 members of our search committee, are the two primary factors that allowed us to reach this wonderful and successful conclusion to our search effort,” Rubenstein said.
The Central New York Community Foundation was founded by a group of Syracuse community leaders 81 years ago. Under Ogden’s leadership, it grew from a $7 million endowment to more than $120 million today. It distributes about $5 million a year in grants to support organizations in neighborhoods, in the arts, in education and in other arenas of community improvement. It also draws on professional investment management expertise and its large diversified asset base in order to allow anyone in the community to participate in its investment growth and to direct contributions to any non-profit of their choice. Lately, like some other community foundations around the country, the Central New York Community Foundation has begun to leverage its assets to help convene problem-solving around chronic community challenges. The most visible example is the “Read Ahead” initiative on literacy, in which all literacy providers in the community have been invited to develop a coherent community-wide strategy, with measurable goals, to address a fundamental need.