Alan Fishman, chair of the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, announced today that founding President Marilyn Gelber would step down from her position at the end of June.
“Marilyn has been an overwhelming force for good in Brooklyn; in fact, few can match her accomplishments in boosting the strength of neighborhoods and resources for residents,” said Mr. Fishman. “She has created a legacy that consists not just of believing in big ideas, but making them happen in ways that benefit every member of our communities. Through her dedicated service and guidance, the Brooklyn Community Foundation is now poised to be a model public institution for advancing local giving and investing in bold new projects. We both look forward to a very bright future for Brooklyn.”
Following three decades in the public sector as a neighborhood planner, an administrator at Brooklyn Borough Hall, and the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, Ms. Gelber began her career in philanthropy in 1998 as the director of the newly-formed Independence Community Foundation. Over the next decade, the foundation awarded $70 million in grants to nonprofit organizations operating in the New York-New Jersey Metro footprint of Independence Community Bank. Headquartered in Brooklyn, it became one of the area’s largest private community-focused funders, with an emphasis on supporting start-up organizations in targeted neighborhoods as well as investing in key anchor institutions.
In 2009, Ms. Gelber oversaw the foundation’s transition into the first and only community foundation in Brooklyn, to encourage philanthropic giving, increase local grantmaking, and build civic engagement. In less than four years, the Brooklyn Community Foundation granted over $15 million to continue its investment in the most effective and innovative nonprofits serving Brooklyn.
Throughout her tenure, Ms. Gelber has been a trusted partner to nonprofits and an insightful voice in public discourse. Most recently, after Superstorm Sandy, she co-created the Brooklyn Recovery Fund to be a high-impact channel for local disaster relief. The Recovery Fund has since awarded $2 million for emergency response and long-term neighborhood rebuilding. Her belief in empowering communities and grassroots grantmaking has helped transform neighborhoods like Red Hook, where the foundation has fostered several nonprofits key to the area’s revitalization. Her lifetime concern for community development has produced many thoughtful philanthropic investments that preserved and built affordable housing, created open space, and improved the quality of life in many neighborhoods. From educational attainment to care for the most vulnerable residents, environmental sustainability to workforce development—the impact of Ms. Gelber’s service to Brooklyn is immeasurable.
The Board of Directors has formed a search committee and has retained the executive search firm Machlowitz Consultants, Inc. to manage the recruitment of the next president.