Press Release: Berkshire Taconic Announces Departure of President Jennifer Dowley at Year’s End

Sheffield, Mass.— Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation today announced that Jennifer Dowley has informed the board of her plan to step down as president at the end of 2015 after nearly 17 years in her role.

As Berkshire Taconic’s third and longest-serving president, Dowley has overseen the foundation’s growth from $18M to $118M in assets, while the number of funds grew from 161 to 550, its full-time staff doubled and several of its core focus areas—including early childhood education, education enrichment programs, affordable housing and nonprofit capacity-building—were established.  

“Berkshire Taconic is thriving as it approaches its fourth decade,” said Bill Dunlaevy, chair of the board of directors. “With Jennifer as our leader, we have a clear course for the future, a solid financial footing and an extraordinary staff who serve our family of donors with great skill and care. We are grateful to have ample time to assess our needs, conduct a thoughtful search and transition successfully to new leadership.”

During Dowley’s tenure, Berkshire Taconic distributed a total of $104.3 million, with average annual grantmaking nearly doubling in size, ensuring deep investment in our region’s nonprofit organizations working to improve the quality of life with programs in education, health and human services, the environment, and arts and culture.

Under her leadership, Berkshire Taconic has created an education enrichment fund for every school district in the region it serves, providing permanent sources of support for dozens of annual activities that build leadership skills, inspire ‘out of the box’ learning and offer alternative avenues of study.

In addition, Dowley led the creation of a system of area funds that now distribute almost $1 million each year to nonprofits in nearly every town in the four-county region. These eight endowed funds form a permanent legacy, allowing donors the opportunity to give locally and providing nonprofits access to financial support that did not previously exist.

“Having created a region-wide philanthropic infrastructure in every town in our very large catchment area, all our public schools have the opportunity for enrichment projects and all our nonprofits can benefit from grantmaking from the foundation,” Dowley said. “It has been a privilege to work with our remarkable communities to identify needs, encourage support and take concrete action to build stronger communities together. We are at a pivot point now and ready for a new leader to move the foundation through its next phase.”

Among the leadership initiatives Dowley helped launch at Berkshire Taconic are HousingUs, a tri-state collaborative to promote and increase affordable housing options; the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, which offers training and services to nonprofit leaders; and Early Childhood Development, an effort to boost kindergarten readiness through investment in evidence-based programs.

A resident of Millerton, NY, Dowley plans to take on new challenges in the world of nonprofits and philanthropy. A search committee, led by Berkshire Taconic board member Sarah Stack and supported by the firm Isaacson, Miller, has been formed to find Dowley’s successor.

“The board will be able to attract a professional at the highest level, given the strong team that Jennifer has assembled and the terrific track record of our collective efforts,” said Stack. “I am delighted to chair the search process that will bring us our next president.”




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