Essex County Community Foundation is pleased to welcome Karen Ansara of Essex and Mollie Byrnes of Gloucester to the ECCF Board of Trustees.
Karen Ansara is a philanthropic powerhouse at the local, national and international level. Karen and her husband Jim, who founded Shawmut Design and Construction, began making local and global anti-poverty grants 13 years ago. Anchored at First Baptist Church in Beverly, Karen serves as a board member of Harborlight Community Partners, an affordable housing organization on the North Shore; MicroCredit Enterprises, which disseminates microloans worldwide; and Partners in Health, which provides health care to the poor in 10 countries. Passionate about international development, Karen is a ten-year member of the Leadership Council of Oxfam America. She co-founded and chairs New England International Donors, a learning network of donors and grantmakers committed to global philanthropy and social investing.
Since the earthquake of 2010, Karen and Jim have focused on Haiti where Jim has overseen (pro-bono) the construction of the newly opened University Hospital of Mirebalais operated by the Haitian Government and Partners in Health. They established the Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Fund at The Boston Foundation where Karen serves on the Grantmaking Committee and Advisory Council. The fund awards grants to Haitian-led initiatives on the island and in Greater Boston’s Haitian community. For their work for Haiti, Karen and Jim jointly received Honorary Doctorates in Humane Letters from Salem State University. A resident of Essex, Karen holds a Masters in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School, a B.A. from Wellesley College and a certificate from The Philanthropy Workshop West. Karen was the Keynote speaker at ECCF’s 2012 Institute for Trustees, and is already an influential leader at the organization.
Mollie Byrnes is a longtime community volunteer. She is a board member of Rockport Music, serving from 2001-2008 and then from 2010-present. Her roles have included Secretary and Vice Chair as well as membership on the following committees: rebranding, development, nominating and governance, senior staff searches, volunteer, events, and architecture for the Shalin Liu performance center. She has been a permanent family trustee of the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation since 1986, serving on the operations committee where her duties include reviewing grant proposals. She is also a corporate trustee of The Trustees of Reservations.
A resident of Gloucester, Mollie cares deeply about the region, and seeks to clear obstacles that can hamper a young person's normal childhood and education. Her goal is to help all children reach their potential educationally and have a chance to be well adjusted productive citizens. Her focus on children connects well with the Foundation’s many education, youth-at-risk, and child and family development initiatives throughout the County.
ECCF is proud and honored to welcome these inspirational women to Essex County’s hub for nonprofit and philanthropic leaders. They will take office on July 1st.