Brooklyn Community Foundation President & CEO, Cecilia Clarke, Announces Departure

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Brooklyn Community Foundation President & CEO, Cecilia Clarke, Announces  Departure

A Letter from President & CEO, Cecilia Clarke

Dear Friends,

It is with a full heart that I write to share that I will be leaving the Foundation this summer to embark on a new personal and professional chapter.

I am filled with joy as I pursue a long-standing dream of attending graduate school to study clinical social work. However, my joy is not without a tinge of sadness. Leading the Brooklyn Community Foundation for the past eight years has been profoundly fulfilling, allowing me to bring all my experience to bear in serving my beloved borough.

I am filled with pride, knowing we have accomplished everything—and more—that I set out to do when I arrived at the Foundation. The organization is thriving, with a clear mission defined by strong values and driven by an unwavering commitment to racial justice. Our sector-shifting community-led approach has been honored by our growing reputation in philanthropy. And signature initiatives like Brooklyn InsightsSpark Prize, and the Invest in Brooklyn Dinner have brought Brooklynites together to celebrate and strengthen our borough.

We have mobilized Brooklyn’s dollars in the pursuit of a more fair and just borough, fueling the work of an ever-growing number of social justice organizations. With your support, we doubled our endowment from $50M to nearly $100M, and last year saw record-breaking contributions and grantmaking, including the remarkable generosity of the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund. We have deepened our investments in nonprofits led by people of color and provided critical multi-year general operating support grants across our programs. We have also galvanized Brooklyn philanthropy at large by helping establish almost 100 Donor Advised Funds, including exciting new partnerships with the Attorney General’s Office and Etsy

I am filled with confidence knowing that the leadership of the Foundation is stronger than ever. Both the staff and board continue to grow—both in numbers, but also in their commitment and expertise. Even with the challenges of working remotely, they have never been more energized and engaged, as evidenced by the unprecedented volume and quality of work done around COVID-19. And after 15 years of distinguished leadership by founding Chairman Alan Fishman, it has been a joy to see Nicole Gueron and Harsha Marti embrace and thrive in their new roles as Board Co-Chairs. 

I am filled with excitement for the future of the Foundation, not only for who its next President and CEO will be, but also how it will expand and evolve. After a truly unprecedented year, what opportunities will the next year bring? The next five? The next 10? Although we have accomplished so much, there will always be work to do to ensure that all Brooklynites can participate and prosper. There will always be the promise and possibility of change for—yes, we all know it!—New York’s greatest borough.

Finally, I am filled with gratitude for having had this opportunity. It has been an honor to lead this Foundation, working with and for the people of Brooklyn these past eight years. Thank you.

All my best,

A Note from Our Board Co-Chairs


Dear Foundation Partners,

We hope you will join us in expressing deep appreciation and best wishes to Cecilia. While we share her excitement about finding a new way to do good work and help others, we also know that Brooklyn’s nonprofit community and the larger philanthropic sector will miss her bold advocacy and leadership on behalf of equity and justice.

We echo Cecilia in celebrating the terrifically strong position in which she is leaving the Foundation. We have an experienced, committed, and talented staff; the good fortune to partner with some of the most innovative nonprofits in the country; and we are in a strong financial position. Thanks to the work of Cecilia and the rest of the team, we are Brooklyn’s go-to institution for donors and nonprofits advancing social change and delivering for our communities. As much as we will miss Cecilia, this is also an invigorating moment for the Foundation, as we all look ahead to the next phase of growth and new leadership.

To find the Foundation’s next President and CEO, the Board has formed a Search Committee, which will oversee a robust and inclusive process. The search will be conducted by an outside firm, and will include a high level of engagement and consultation with our staff and all of our stakeholders, including the community that we serve. We know this will be a dream opportunity for many, and we look forward to announcing full details on this process once finalized.

Until then, thank you again to Cecilia and the entire Foundation team, our donors, our nonprofit partners, and the broader Brooklyn community for being part of this vital institution.


Nicole Gueron & Harsha Marti
Co-Chairs, Brooklyn Community Foundation

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