Lawson Knight, Executive Director
Trustees of Blue Mountain Community Foundation accepted Executive Director Lawson Knight’s letter of resignation at their Tuesday Board meeting. Volunteer leaders also commissioned a search committee to seek Knight’s replacement.
Knight concludes an 11-year tenure at the Foundation. Dan Reid, President, said, “while we are all sad to see him go, we are grateful for his extraordinary leadership over the past eleven years.” Reid continued by saying the Foundation is in a strong position in many ways from volunteer leadership, staff, strategy and financial position.
The Foundation’s Director of Finance & Administration, Kate Bobrow-Strain, commented that the Foundation is in excellent shape to transition to a new leader. “Our staff is ready to continue to help all the people who interact with the Foundation, from donors to scholarship and grant applicants and recipients. Our financial position is strong. The Foundation will adapt and thrive.”
When asked why he is leaving, Knight shared “I don’t know that there is ever a good time, but now seemed like the right time.” In addition, the opportunity to start a new venture that will keep ties to community foundations and allow Knight to stay in Walla Walla is the most significant reason for the change.
Blue Mountain Community Foundation, started in 1984, will now seek only its fourth leader and second full-time executive director. The Foundation helps donors make gifts that create funds. Funds make grants, based on donor guidance, that support a board array of nonprofits, causes and communities.
From its first fund, which benefits the United Way of Walla Walla, the Community Foundation is on its way to 300 funds and $35M in assets. It invests nearly $2 million in the community each year through grants and scholarships.
When asked what he sees as highlights of his time as Executive Director, Knight talked about remarkable gifts by donors, finding great colleagues, beginning with Joan Aragone in January 2003, and grants that have touched the lives of so many.
Pushed for examples of these grants, he cited several from the First Fruits Fund established through a gift by the Vista Hermosa Foundation. The chance to invest in Lincoln High School during Jim Sporleder’s tenure has been special. “We have seen an over five-fold increase in graduation rates,” said Knight. Plus, other grantees that work closely with Lincoln High School—from the Health Center at Lincoln to the Children’s Resilience Initiative—have been incredible partners in that work.
There is much optimism for the future of the organization. Trustees are confident that the Executive Director position will attract an outstanding group of candidates. A strong search committee is commissioned with current and past Trustees, chaired by past Foundation president, Jane Kreitzberg. Express Employment Professionals will provide professional support to the search, as well.