Changing Leadership Atop Leading Philanthropy Organizations

Two leading organizations in Connecticut’s philanthropic community are at the crossroads of leadership changes.  The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy (CCP) has announced the end of its national search for a new leader with the selection of Karla Fortunato to be its new president, effective May 1.  The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, one of the nation’s largest community foundations, has embarked on its own national search, and announced that Yvette Meléndez has been appointed interim president, effective March 20, as that search process continues. Fortunato comes to CCP after 13 years at the Health and Environmental Funders Network (HEFN), a national alliance of 60 philanthropic organizations based in Rockville, MD.

As director of HEFN, she has managed its programming, outreach, and operations, promoting collaboration on shared goals among its members.  Fortunato previously served as associate director of policy for Health Care for All in Boston, engaging in policy research, communications, and campaigns, and as a consultant for The Public Policy Institute, also in Boston.

"Karla's experience in building alliances among funders and engaging in public policy outreach make her ideally suited to lead our organization," said Judith Meyers, chair of CCP's Board of Directors. "She is a proven leader with a strong vision of how to mobilize the power of philanthropy to effect positive change--and she has a true passion for the work."

Fortunato graduated magna cum laude from the Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Virginia and earned an MBA (also magna cum laude) from George Washington University. She serves on the Health Leadership Circle of MomentUs, a campaign for climate change solutions. She served as a member of the Serving Communities Committee of the National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures and as a citizen representative on the Montgomery County Citizen's Advisory Board. A native of Connecticut, she and her family look forward to relocating here from their current home in Jacksonville, Florida.

The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy (CCP) is an association of grantmakers committed to promoting and supporting effective philanthropy for the public good. CCP's 114 members are foundations (private, corporate, community), business and corporate giving programs, bank trusts, donor-advised funds, individual philanthropists and those serving the philanthropic sector. CCP members annually grant more than $858 million from assets of more than $7.6 billion.

Meléndez has served on the Hartford Foundation's board for close to 12 years, the last three as chair. She has more than 30 years of successful managerial experience in state government, higher education and at Hartford Healthcare, from which she is recently retired. She will take a leave of absence from the board during this time, and will serve as interim until a new president is named. Meléndez is not a candidate for the position. Linda J. Kelly announced her retirement as president of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, last March, effective next month, after 10 years leading the organization.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities.  In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations.  It has awarded grants of more than $680 million since its founding in 1925.

PHOTO:  Karla Fortunato (left), Yvette Meléndez (right)