Lisa Mensah starts in mid-September 2022; Max Williams will remain in his role as President and CEO of Oregon Community Foundation until that time, and will also continue on in the months after her arrival as a resource in the transition, as Greg Chaillé did for Max when he joined OCF.
Among Lisa’s leadership responsibilities over the next 18 months or so, she will oversee the development and launch of the Foundation’s next strategic plan, coinciding with OCF’s 50th anniversary activities in 2023.
Oregon Community Foundation’s priorities continue to be in service to statewide philanthropic impact, embracing the organization’s unique role in bringing diverse interests and communities together to ensure a healthy, thriving and sustainable Oregon. OCF leverages a range of resources and contributions of time, money, talents and voice to solve complex challenges together in community, to leverage resources the sustain everyday livability, and to continue to advance opportunities for all Oregonians.
Lisa Mensah’s recognized expertise in increasing access to capital in distressed and low-wealth communities will further deepen OCF’s current work to close opportunity gaps for historically disinvested populations across our state. She will explore ways to further amplify and accelerate all of OCF’s ongoing work in community.
Current and former board members were deeply involved in the search, a group that has more than to 80 years’ experience of service with Oregon Community Foundation and strong connections to people and organizations across the state, including connections to rural Oregon, OCF grantees and diverse groups. The board and search partners dedicated hundreds of hours to the six-month process, which began with community listening sessions to help inform the search, and included holding town halls, conducting community and staff surveys, reviewing nominations, reading through resumes, conducting multiple rounds of interviews and attending numerous meetings to advance the search and find the right successor CEO. The full Board, representing all regions of Oregon, as well as various perspectives and lived experiences, made the final and unanimous decision to hire Lisa Mensah as the next CEO and President of OCF.
The Board was looking for an experienced leader who would continue to advance Oregon Community Foundation’s statewide philanthropic impact and embrace the unique role a community foundation plays in bringing diverse interests and communities together to solve complex challenges, grow and strengthen OCF’s philanthropic resources and statewide network of donors, volunteers, nonprofit organizations and philanthropic partners, and build bridges within and across communities in many different ways to help advance OCF’s mission and vision. The Board also actively sought a values alignment and commitment to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the organization and in our work across the state.
Lisa’s lifelong advocacy and leadership in leveraging public funding and private investment to bring capital to underserved communities across America are models of advancing equity, diversity and inclusion earning her national recognition, and she brings that experience to Oregon Community Foundation as OCF’s new CEO.
Her life’s work has taken her from working on rural poverty with the Ford Foundation to serving as Under Secretary for Rural Development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Obama Administration, managing a $215 billion loan portfolio, to currently leading Opportunity Finance Network, the nation’s largest network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).
While change is an ongoing part of all organizational health and vitality, Lisa plans to dedicate much of her early time at OCF to learning about the organization and its people, meeting the many donors, community partners, volunteers and grantees who make this statewide work possible, and helping to fulfill OCF’s vital role in communities around the state.
Lisa is very much looking forward to meeting her Oregon partners in the ecosystem for good, and part of her immersion into her new role will be getting to know Oregonians and Oregon communities better. Numerous gatherings, both in-person and online, are planned in support of this outreach to connect Lisa with donors, volunteers and community leaders, elected officials and grantees across the state.