What Should We Expect from the New Head of the East Bay Community Foundation?

Some foundation leaders like Jim Canales move across the country to switch gears mid-career and put their philanthropic powers to work for another major funder. The San Francisco Foundation’s James Head recently made a major switch of his own, but he didn’t have to travel very far to do it.

As of December 8, James Head will begin serving as President and CEO of The East Bay Community Foundation. East Bay’s nationwide search for a new leader has turned out to be a rather local affair. Head has worked at the San Francisco Foundation for over a decade and served as the foundation’s Vice President of Programs.

As East Bay’s new CEO, Head will be in charge of $395 million in assets and serve the 2.5 million residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties. As a basis of comparison, TSFF reported nearly $1.2 billion in assets in 2013. Last year, East Bay awarded $49 million in grants and TSFF made $86.8 million in grants.

Although East Bay’s financials aren’t quite as massive as TSFF, Head may wield more overall power at East Bay in the role of president and CEO. Once he steps foot in his new office, he’ll be leading 25 East Bay staff members. This opens up a new chapter for James Head, in which he’ll be able to focus on the East Bay communities he calls home and focus more directly on his closest neighbors.

"The East Bay Community Foundation is a longstanding partner and we look forward to a close working relationship in the years to come,” commented TSFF CEO Fred Blackwell.

Although East Bay is a community foundation that helps donors maximize the impact of their individual giving, it also has a couple of specific discretionary grantmaking focus areas. One of these priorities is to help residents acquire job skills and get jobs. The other top East Bay priority is ensuring that young children acquire literacy skills so they are successful in school.

So what does this mean for East Bay grantees and grantseekers?

Expect to see a heightened emphasis on economic development, housing, and youth development, which are some of the main causes Head championed at TSFF. He’s known in the community as a prominent civic leader, champion of civil rights, and a legal scholar. Prior to joining the San Francisco Foundation, Head was president of the National Economic Development and Law Center for 18 years. So knows the life of a practitioner and grankseeker quite well.

That earlier career is another reason to imagine that East Bay’s focus will shift more prominently toward economic development efforts for adults and families who struggle to find jobs and financial stability.

As for Head's boilerplate quote in the press release, we'll confess we found it touching: 

The East Bay is my beloved home. Each and every day I experience the power and the beauty of the East Bay’s people, culture, and environment. We have many inherent assets, and many challenges as well.

Sounds like the foundation was smart to think locally in choosing its next leader.