(Worcester, Mass. Nov. 22, 2021) The Foundation is pleased to announce its Board of Directors has voted unanimously to hire Jim Ayres as its new president and CEO. Ayres comes to the Foundation from Strategies for Collaborative Impact and Justice Consulting as its principal consultant and founder. Prior to that, Ayres served as the Vice President of Programs & Strategy for the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Interim President/CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley, and as the CEO/Executive Director of the United Way of Hampshire County.
“After a thorough search with the Foundation's priorities in mind, Jim emerged as the unanimous choice to lead as the new CEO,” said J. Christopher Collins, Chair of the Board. “The Greater Worcester Community Foundation is focused on promoting broader awareness of how philanthropy can offer leadership and support to address critical needs in Worcester and Worcester County. With Jim's history of building community, through gathering voices with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, he has the essential qualifications, energy and expertise to strengthen our organizational leadership and propel this entire organization, and our varied missions, forward.”
“I'm thrilled to be joining the Greater Worcester Community Foundation,” said Ayres. “The Foundation is a tremendously important and impressive organization, and I believe this is an exciting point in time for the Foundation, the city and region.”
“Over the past decades, I've been fortunate to have worked to build opportunity, improve lives, and strengthen communities through leadership in philanthropy and organizational development,” adds Ayres. “Now working with the amazing communities in Worcester and Worcester County, I'm particularly eager to begin engaging those who've historically been shut out, while keeping the concept of equity front-and-center in our planning, decision-making, and organizational self-reflection.”
Ayres will step into the role on January 3, 2022. Former Chair of the Board Carolyn Stempler has served as the Interim CEO of the Foundation for 8 months.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, the Corporators, the staff, the volunteers, and all the communities we serve, we want to thank Carolyn for her exemplary leadership over the past 8 months during this time of leadership transition,” said Collins. “Carolyn's commitment, professionalism, and understanding of the Foundation's needs during this time were invaluable and we were so lucky to have her.”
“I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with the staff of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation as they've remained resilient through this time of transition,” said Stempler. “I am proud of my 13 years of service to the Foundation and look forward to watching the continued efforts as it serves the entire greater Worcester community.”
As President and CEO, Ayres will lead a team of 11 employees and will work closely with GWCF's Board of Directors. Core focus areas for the CEO will include strategic direction, governance, program development, business operations, financial management, personnel management, and community relations. Programmatically, the Foundation is currently working on arts/culture initiatives as well as looking at community issues through the lens of racial disparity.
Ayres holds a Masters in International Affairs with a specialization in non-governmental organizations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University, a Masters in Business Administration from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College. He currently resides with his family about 60 miles west of Worcester with plans to move to Central Massachusetts after the completion of the current school year.