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New Senior Staff Hires Strengthen Atlantic for Social Justice Mission and Spending Down Assets

Resource type: News

Gara LaMarche |

Atlantic Philanthropies logoI don’t usually use this space for organisational announcements, but we have recently made three new appointments to Atlantic’s senior staff, who together bring enormous strengths to our mission and each of whom illustrates something important about where the foundation is going in its final years.  One joins us this week and all will be aboard by the end of summer.

They are:

Dall Forsythe, Vice President for Finance and Operations

Dall Forsythe has a long and accomplished record of public and community service, with an emphasis on leadership roles in budget and administration, managing high-performing professionals in large institutions with a civic or social justice mission.  He started out as a Staff Assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was Chief Policy Analyst for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy, Budget Director for the New York City Public Schools under Chancellor Frank Macchiarola, and Budget Director for the State of New York under Governor Mario Cuomo.  He served two stints along the way at Lehman Brothers and did penance for his time on Wall Street with an equivalent period of service as Chief Administrative Officer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

For the last four years, Dall has been a Professor of Practice, Public Administration and Financial Management at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, and has also taught at Columbia, Harvard, the University of Albany and Baruch College.  He is the author of four books, including Memos to the Governor:  An Introduction to State Budgeting (Governor Cuomo’s forward to the book calls Dall “a nice combination of a highly proficient accounting professional and a sensitive and bright student of social needs” who had “extraordinary command … of the situations he was working in and the options that were available to him”) and Taxation and Political Change in the Young Nation, 1781-1833.  He is an Affiliated Scholar at the Vera Institute of Justice, a member of the New York City Audit Committee, Chair of the Fund for the City of New York, and formerly chaired the Investment Committee of the Episcopal Church in the United States, overseeing its $300 million endowment.

There are few people as qualified to organise financial information clearly and comprehensibly for decisionmaking by an institution’s key programme and board leadership, or who have as amply demonstrated a commitment to social justice in action.

He joined Atlantic this week and is based in the New York office.

Fran Barrett, Director of Capacity Building

With four decades of experience advising nonprofit organisations and championing social justice issues, Fran Barrett is the perfect person to lead Atlantic’s newly established Capacity Building Unit.

Fran has been Executive Director of Community Resource Exchange (CRE), a management consulting firm she founded in 1979. Today CRE is a leader in building the management skills of nonprofit leaders to optimise their own talent and increase their organisations’ efficiency in fighting poverty and addressing social justice issues. Fran created a third-party payer system to allow potential clients without the ability to pay to have access to CRE’s expertise, and to date CRE has empowered over 3,600 community groups that serve disadvantaged New Yorkers, including children and youth, older adults, low-income families, people with HIV/AIDS and immigrants.

Fran has been an active spokesperson regarding the impact of the economic downturn on nonprofits, and in May 2009 she was featured in The New York Times concerning personal giving in hard times. Fran has also received several honours, including the Alliance for Nonprofit Management’s 2009 Founders Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises an individual for exceptional contributions to the field of nonprofit capacity building over 25 years or more, and the Brooke Russell Astor Award, presented annually to an individual whose dedication and perseverance have made an important contribution toward improving the quality of life in New York City. She has served on numerous boards and advisory boards, and plays a leadership role at Gray Matters NYC, a group of dedicated professionals who share their expertise with nonprofit organisations on a pro bono basis.

Fran will join Atlantic in early September and be based in the New York office.

Nobayeni Dladla, Country Director for South Africa 

Nobayeni Dladla will lead Atlantic’s activities and investments to maximise the foundation’s impact in and contribution to South Africa.  She will oversee the grantmaking in South Africa through Atlantic’s Reconciliation & Human Rights and Population Health Programmes, and will lead the South African staff in the development of cross-programme and out-of-programme strategies and grants.  Nobayeni will pay particular attention to the political, social and economic climate in South Africa, and will serve as liaison to government, local and international donors, and other key partners.

Nobayeni joins Atlantic from the South African Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, where she served as Health Attaché with a focus on ensuring that health interests of South Africa are placed on the agenda of the UN and other international organisations.  She also served as Health Attaché in the United States and Canada promoting the health interests of South Africa.  As Health Attaché, she represented the needs and interests of South Africa in bilateral relations with the United States and Canada and in the multilateral area working with the UN and international organisations in Geneva, proving her ability to engage with policymakers at all levels of government.  She has previously served as the Head of the Social Sector within the Policy Coordination Unit in the Presidency in South Africa, and as the Director of Nutrition for the Department of Health in South Africa.

Nobayeni will join Atlantic in early September and be based in the Johannesburg office.

What do these three appointments signify about Atlantic’s direction?

First, with respect to Dall, in steering our remaining resources for maximum impact in the foundation’s final years, we need strong experience in managing budgets to make sure every possible dollar advances our mission. 

Second, foundations can and should provide more than just money to grantees, and the Capacity Building Unit that will be assembled under Fran’s direction will provide limited direct support in communications, advocacy, organisational development and fundraising, as well as work with Atlantic’s Country Directors and Programme Directors to identify and coordinate local external resources.

Third, we have created the position of Country Director and charged it with identifying our priorities in each of the countries where we work.  This is particularly important since by the end of this decade Atlantic as we know it will no longer exist, and because the critical decisions about each country’s priorities, particularly outside the United States, where Atlantic is often the largest private donor, need to be informed and led by those who know the situation best.  Nobayeni comes to us from outside Atlantic; in Northern Ireland, our longtime Reconciliation & Human Rights Programme Director, Martin O’Brien, has assumed this post, and in Viet Nam, our Population Health Director, Le Nhan Phuong, has stepped into the role. (Both will retain their global responsibilities for human rights and health, as well.)  Atlantic Senior Vice-President Colin McCrea is Acting Country Director for the Republic of Ireland while we undertake a search for a permanent director.

And finally, with two of these appointments, Atlantic is also practising what we preach about the enormous capacity of older adults to make significant contributions well beyond what was once considered “retirement” age, as Dall and Fran are undertaking “encore careers” here after 40 years of distinguished achievement in other realms.  Foundations are mainly looked to for dollars in the form of grants, but human capital is also an extremely important resource, and with these three new hires, we have added greatly to it at Atlantic.

Gara LaMarche