I am writing to share the news that in January, I initiated conversations with the Executive Committee of the Meyer board about stepping back from my role as President & CEO of the Foundation. As a result of those conversations, my last day as President of Meyer will be May 31st, but I am heartened to share that on June 1, I will transition into a senior advisor consultant role to lead a board initiative that will tell the story of the Meyer Foundation’s — as well as my own as president — racial equity journey over the last seven years. This is both an exciting and necessary project from my perspective that I have been trying to find time to do for a while. I will also support the leadership transition through the end of the year.
It is hard to believe that seven years have passed since I accepted the role of President & CEO of the Meyer Foundation. I came to this role with a strong perspective on the need for philanthropy to be contextual in our approach to supporting our community and problem-solving. That meant thinking beyond traditional philanthropy and using all of our assets — not just our dollars — to further our mission and move from incremental to transformational change. At the end of 2015, following significant input from members of our community, we identified systemic racism as the root cause of the massive and growing economic and other disparities across our region, and resolved to understand more deeply what that meant and how it would change our work. That was a big commitment with a lot of unknowns, but I knew in my heart that this decision was not a nice-to-do but a have-to-do.
I have learned so much over the last seven years as we have navigated the ins and outs of transforming a 75 year-old institution, and embedding racial equity into our operations, our culture, our work. I am so proud of what we have accomplished, and I am deeply grateful to the many people — staff, board members, and others who have helped me lead this important work, and deepened my understanding of the complexities of racism and racial equity.
I have always believed that a critical aspect of leadership is knowing when to make space and pass the baton — which is what led me to inform the Meyer Board Executive Committee in January of my decision to step back from my role as President & CEO. The team I have built and the strong foundation we have laid together provides a wonderful opportunity for the next leader to build on this forward and positive momentum.
I remain deeply committed to Meyer’s work and the work of racial justice and anti-racism. I look forward to sharing more later this spring as I shift to my new role. In the meantime, I want to give one of what will be many shout-outs to the amazing board and staff at Meyer — the Meyer Foundation and our community are in great hands.
Dear Meyer Foundation community partners,
As indicated by Nicky’s note above, after seven years of distinguished service, she will be stepping down from her current position, effective May 31st.
For the past seven years, Nicky has been a thoughtful, collaborative, courageous, and strategic leader who has worked tirelessly to fulfill the Foundation’s mission of achieving a racially and economically just Greater Washington region. The board of directors is proud to have been a partner with Nicky throughout her role as President and CEO, and we are delighted that she has agreed to the board’s request to serve, in a consulting role, as Senior Advisor for the remainder of 2021, effective June 1, and concluding by year’s end.
In this new role, Nicky will be charged with chronicling the Meyer Foundation’s journey into racial equity and systems change over the last seven years of bold, strategic focus, and change. Under her leadership, we’ve made great progress in evolving our strategies and growing our partnerships to address the root causes and systemic factors that lead to economic inequality and racial injustice. And it was Nicky’s leadership that moved the Foundation’s board of directors to recognize the need to take on this work, built the organization’s capacity to do the work — with the right team as the essential ingredient to our success — and led the organization through a fundamental shift in how it operates and how we support the community. We’re confident the project she’ll be taking on will contribute to the robust dialogue, exploration, and forward movement currently happening in the philanthropic sector, especially as it relates to funding systems change and investing in BIPOC-led organizations, which as we know are notoriously under-funded. Our hope is that this project will be a resource for others throughout the philanthropic community.
To help ensure a seamless transition, Nicky and the board will serve as a resource to Janice Thomas, who is stepping in as Interim President and CEO effective June 1. As you know, Janice is currently serving as Meyer’s Vice President for Finance and Operations, where she has overseen all accounting and finance functions, including the endowment, human resources, technology, and grants management for the last eight years. She has played an integral role alongside her colleagues on the senior leadership team in setting the strategic direction of the Foundation. The board could not ask for a better person than Janice to step into the interim role while we focus on engaging an executive search firm to conduct a national search for our next President and CEO.
Thank you for being a valuable member of the Foundation’s community. On behalf of the board, please know we appreciate your support and look forward to your continued partnership in advancing an equitable Greater Washington region.
Dr. Charlene Dukes
Chair of the Board