Back in February, as the Community Foundation started down the transition path, we imagined that the year ahead would be full of twists and turns. And we were right.

It has been a time of change, challenges, new beginnings and even some grieving. We’ve come a long way and learned a lot.

What does it feel like now, you ask?

Change: The mere mention of it makes many folks twitchy. I am very pleased to be able to say that the Community Foundation and its many constituencies have remained remarkably steady and forward-looking throughout the year.

Challenges: For all of us, walking the path to new leadership has had many components. The Board and its Transition/Search Committee have worked incredibly hard to both lead today’s Foundation, and plan for the future. The most important job a board ever does is to hire its next executive, and our group has taken that responsibility to heart all year. Now they are both tired and energized. For the staff it has been a challenge to have a foot in two camps, staying focused on their work today and anticipating a big change which will impact them more than anyone else. They have done a great job, and deserve our gratitude and support as they head into year two of this transition with a new leader.

Grieving: My strong ties with so many wonderful people have allowed us to weather all these changes while maintaining our friendships. I will miss the wide and deep relationships I have built over the last 20 years. As I head into retirement, I do so with fondness for the work and for all of you. As I have said before, you have taught me and welcomed me into the fellowship of generous people, and I will remain the Community Foundation’s most ardent cheerleader.

New beginnings: New leadership will bring fresh perspectives, new skills, energy, and excitement. I expect the organization will have a new take on life as it looks forward in 2015.

What have we learned?

  1. We did the right thing to keep me, the outgoing CEO, at arm’s length from the search process except for providing information when asked. It has been helpful to the organization for me to step away from planning a future of which I won’t be a part. And it has allowed me to continue to work with the staff, and to stay focused on the present.
  2. Since Jeff Vega was named to be my successor, the Transition Committee, our staff, Jeff, and I have worked together to orient him ahead of time. That has required effort on all our parts, and will make his arrival as smooth as possible for everyone.
  3. This transition is appropriate for me and for the Community Foundation. It was well timed and executed, assumed the best of and for all involved, and has been a stimulating time of change.
  4. And now that it is time for the change to actually happen, we are ready. The Community Foundation’s success is our collective #1 priority, and I have every confidence that its future is bright. Whether you first met the Community Foundation yesterday or a decade ago, you know we’ve worked hard to be a smart, forward-thinking, and generous organization. Those things won’t change. A strong base, a new leader, and a big vision, ensure an exciting New Year.

Thank you one and all, personally and from the bottom of my heart. I will retire on December 31 with gratitude for all we have accomplished together and deep satisfaction that our community has a meaningful resource it didn’t have 20 years ago. We did all that together and I am pleased.

—Nancy Kieling, President, Princeton Area Community Foundation