Hugh Ralston announced on Monday his resignation as president and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation after 11 years leading the organization through a time of record growth when its assets quadrupled.
He will stay through Sept. 30 to give the board of directors time to find a successor for the Camarillo-based foundation.
"After 11 years, the timing felt right to make this change. I leave VCCF on good terms, in good shape and in good hands," said Ralston, of Ventura. "I am enormously proud of what my staff colleagues have accomplished over the past 11 years, and I salute their dedication, hard work and flexibility as the community foundation transformed its work, its message and its outreach, building on the strong foundation I inherited from my predecessor."
The longtime California resident with deep roots in Ventura County plans to take on new challenges in the world of philanthropy and nonprofits. He has been deeply engaged with the VCCF Center for Nonprofit Leadership — a training center for nonprofit professionals — and the needs for skilled leadership throughout the nonprofit sector. Ralston currently teaches courses on endowments, planned giving as well as the CEO/board chair partnership at the center.
"Nonprofits matter greatly to their communities, and I have spent two decades since returning to California on expanding opportunities for a diverse next generation, strengthening the arts and deepening the talent and skills of effective philanthropists. I look forward to focusing my work on these priorities," said Ralston, who also serves as president of the Community Foundations National Standards Board, a nationwide accreditation program.
The VCCF board has accepted Ralston's resignation, said chairman Gary Erickson. Erickson praised Ralston's leadership during these years of substantial growth and change. The entire board expressed appreciation for his dedication to VCCF, leadership and his contributions to the transformative growth of the foundation.
Among the milestones in Ralston's tenure at VCCF are a $100 million increase in assets and tenfold growth in scholarship funds, despite the economic downturn of 2009. He also oversaw the launch of the VCCF Nonprofit Center in Camarillo and the expansion of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership.
"Our foundation is in an excellent position today, reflecting Hugh's leadership, management and stewardship over the past 11 years," said Erickson, who took over as board chair last fall. "We salute his dedicated commitment to expanding the mission of the foundation, his personal generosity to our work, his respected engagement with local nonprofit leaders and the results of his efforts to develop the new nonprofit center among many accomplishments. He brought a combination of skills that met our needs, and his imprint will be long lasting."
Ralston said the timing of his departure announcement is designed to provide a smooth transition to a new CEO. This is especially important as longtime VCCF Controller and Vice President Clare Brown plans to retire later this year.
The board will appoint a search committee to find a new CEO, Erickson said. He also announced there would be a public event in June to thank Ralston formally for his contributions to VCCF.
Ralston was recruited to be VCCF's third head of staff in 2003, following a 13-year leadership of Kate McLean. During his tenure, the foundation's total assets have quadrupled, growing from $32 million to $135 million as of March 31.
A long-standing member of the Workforce Investment Board of Ventura County, Ralston helped develop the framework for expanding investment in job sectors that provide good-paying jobs.
He also serves on the boards of the League of California Community Foundations, Scripps College, the San Francisco Theological Seminary, Community Arts Music Association of Santa Barbara and KDB Radio, the latter owned by the Santa Barbara Foundation. He is also the interim president of the Star in Education Foundation and recently completed a six-year term on the Southern California Grantmakers board.
Ralston and his wife, Elizabeth, are avid gardeners, and he also is a member of the Los Robles Master Chorale.
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