After 25 years at the helm of the New York Foundation, Madeline Lee announced last week that she will retire next summer. Under her leadership, the foundation has grown five-fold and now gives $5 million a year to fund community projects around the New York area.
“I have always been amazed that I would be paid for doing something I have loved as much as I love this work,” said Lee. “But 25 years is enough.”
In her time at the foundation, one of the oldest in the country, she redirected its efforts to focus on supporting community-based organizations in poor neighborhoods, including Green Guerillas, a community garden group, Picture the Homeless, an advocacy group, and City Limits and Center for an Urban Future. She also established a program for grantees to meet with the foundation’s board to discuss the city’s needs and help shape the foundation’s direction.
Maria Mottola, the foundation’s associate executive director, will help continue those efforts when she takes over as director next summer. Until then, Lee says she will focus on training new staff and on formalizing two granting projects, one related to September 11 relief efforts and the other directed toward increasing the level of civic participation among the city’s immigrant communities.
Meanwhile, the New York Foundation will gain an advocate this October, when Kevin Ryan, executive director of the Community Training and Resource Center, takes a job as a program officer.
For three years, Ryan has led the housing advocacy group in providing information and training to tenant organizers and public officials. The group also has been active in lobbying the city to budget more for tenant organizing efforts.