Springfield Foundation, which has over $100M in assets, appoints new leader

A new executive director will be taking the reigns of a local foundation that has over $100 million in assets, manages hundreds of endowments, works closely with local nonprofits and has aided in recent downtown redevelopment efforts.

Susan Carey, a longtime employee of the Springfield Foundation, became its executive director on Wednesday as her predecessor Ted Vander Roest retired last month. As she becomes situated in her new role, the plan is to access how the foundation can better serve the community in coming years, while also attracting new donors and managing various scholarship funds as well as partnerships with local nonprofits.

Carey said that she will work with the foundation’s board to determine what projects they can invest in the future that will be the most beneficial to the community. The goal is to also foster stronger relationships with younger community members, support efforts that aid area growth and continue supporting diversity and inclusion practices within the foundation and the nonprofits and scholarship funds it works with.

“For us, it is finding out where that gap is. Where we can direct our funding that will be the most beneficial. Where money can’t be pulled from other sources,” Carey said in terms of future projects the foundation may invest in.

Over the past five years, the foundation had invested a total of $500,000 into SpringForward, a collaboration with a number of different organizations that aim to foster development in downtown Springfield. That included building renovations and projects designed to create more storefronts, housing and generate more investment in the area.

The foundation feels that redevelopment efforts have gained momentum over the past few years and looking ahead may instead refocus efforts on other projects such as affordable housing.

However, what projects the foundation decides to embark on are still being discussed.

The main function of the foundation remains the management of endowments. The foundation is in charge of investing and growing that money that is then distributed through scholarships to local students or grants to local nonprofits.

Carey said that there are over 200 different scholarship funds set up through the foundation. Around $800,000 worth of scholarships are set to be awarded this year and that number has continued to grow annually.

But roughly half of the endowments are set up by nonprofits to support those organizations and the work they do.

Carey said that she has learned a lot from her predecessor Ted Vander Roest, who announced that he was retiring from the role of executive director this year.

Vander Roest become the foundation’s executive director in 2007, the same year that Carey joined the organization. During that time the foundation’s assets have grown from $17 million to around $112 million.

Mike McDorman, president and CEO of the Greater Springfield Partnership, said Vander Roest will be missed noting the considerable growth of the foundations assets as well as its key role in local revitalization efforts during his tenure.

Victoria Dawson-Scruse, the president of the Springfield Foundation Board, said the organization will be in good hands under Carey’s leadership. Carey served as the foundation’s director of grants and scholarships since 2014.

“Under Mr. Vander Roest’s leadership and direction, (Carey) has developed the skills to be an effective leader for the Foundation. Her three-year vision and priorities plan, her strategic plan, as well as her plan to not only tap into the next generation but to also reach out to the senior population made her the perfect choice as the Executive Director,” said Dawson-Scruse.

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