Thomas E. Wilcox Announces his Retirement as Head of the Baltimore Community Foundation

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Photo via Baltimore Community Foundation

Thomas E. Wilcox is stepping down as president and CEO of the Baltimore Community Foundation after 17 years.

In a letter to foundation chair Laura Gamble, Wilcox said he will stay in his position through the transition to its next leader. A search committee is expected to identify Wilcox’s replacement before the end of the year, according to foundation spokeswoman Gigi Wirtz.

“After having the extraordinary privilege of serving BCF and Baltimore for more than 17 years, it is now time to pass the mantle of civic leadership to a new generation of leaders. I have decided to retire once you have my successor in place,” Wilcox, 69, said in his letter to Gamble.

Formed in 1972 and governed by a board of trustees, the foundation is a collection of charitable funds benefiting the Greater Baltimore region.

Wilcox wrote that he believes the foundation has become “a powerful force for positive change for Baltimore.” But “our work has just begun,” he said. “BCF now must fully engage with a wider variety of Baltimoreans, boldly learning, informing, investing and leading for a greater Baltimore.”

Under Wilcox’s leadership, the foundation’s grant making has grown from an average of $5 million per year in the 1990s to more than $25 million annually. The foundation recently completed a successful campaign that will increase its permanent endowment from $30 million in 2000 to more than $160 million.

Wilcox drew high praise from foundation trustees for his contributions.

“Tom has done a superb job taking BCF to the next level by demonstrating the courage to directly confront and address the challenges of urban America,” said BCF honorary trustee and UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III in a statement. “He has launched a number of successful initiatives with specificity and substance.”

The foundation “is now an essential voice in key issues that matter to our entire community,” said Mark Fetting, a current trustee and former CEO of Legg Mason, in a statement. “We have seen exponential increases in both assets and influence, making the foundation a key catalyst for change.”

His focus on education in Baltimore has greatly benefitted Baltimore City Public Schools, said CEO Sonja Santelises. “Tom has been an advocate for the underserved and a force for positive change across Baltimore, making impactful contributions to our city, our young people and our families.”

“Tom is leaving a long record of success and has transformed the way BCF works,” Gamble said.

The foundation’s board will identify a search firm to lead a local and national search for its next president and CEO, and board members Stuart Simms and Josh Fidler will co-chair the search committee, Gamble said in a letter to foundation partners.

In her letter, Gamble said she expects the search firm to be in place within a month and expressed confidence that strong candidates will emerge.

“The progress BCF has made under Tom’s leadership and our growing reputation for innovation among community foundations nationwide will attract a number of highly qualified candidates from here and around the country,” she said.

Ed Gunts

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