The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced that Julia Stasch will step down as president in 2019.
During her four-plus years in that role, Stasch focused the foundation on fewer programs and launched significant investments in areas of urgent concern, including $127 million through the foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge to address the problem of over-incarceration and change the way America thinks about and uses jails, and $150 million to promote climate change solutions and move the country toward a less carbon-intensive economy. She also led the creation of 100&Change, a global competition that awarded a single $100 million grant with the aim of enabling real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time.
In addition, Stasch charged MacArthur staff to double down on its commitment to justice in grantmaking and prioritized greater diversity at every level of the foundation; broadened the range of organizations that provide goods and services to the foundation; worked to elevate voices not typically heard in policy and the public narrative; and ensured that the foundation's grantmaking strategies consider and address historic and structural inequities.
Stasch served as vice president for MacArthur's U.S. Programs for thirteen years before becoming president. Before joining the foundation, she served as chief of staff to Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, housing commissioner for the City of Chicago, deputy administrator at the General Services Administration during the Clinton administration, and president of Shorebank Chicago Companies, which included Shorebank, the nation's first community development bank. Earlier, as president and CEO of real estate development company Stein & Company, she was known for efforts to open up opportunities in the construction industry to women and minorities in the workforce and for woman- and minority-owned businesses.
"During this exceptional time, when hope and optimism persist, even as the challenges facing our city, our nation, and the world can seem so daunting and the divisions so deep, it is an honor to lead an institution committed to making the world a better and more just place for all," said Stasch. "Philanthropy is well-positioned to act boldly, to take risks, to invest in new ideas, and to bridge differences to effect real and lasting change. I am so proud to work with the terrific MacArthur board; dedicated, passionate, and talented staff; partners and colleagues of all kinds; and the incredible organizations we support, whose critical work spans from North Lawndale to Lagos, helping people, places, and the planet."
"Julia has provided exemplary leadership, bringing rigor, urgency, boldness, and a willingness to take risks to MacArthur's programs and operations," said MacArthur board chair Dan Huttenlocher. "Her vision helped define 'big bet' philanthropy and reinforce in powerful ways the foundation's core commitment to justice. We applaud her contributions and look forward to building on the bold achievements of her tenure as we continue to work with MacArthur's outstanding staff and partners of all kinds to help bring about real and lasting change."