October 25, 2023
ECCF Announces Beth Francis, President & CEO to Step Down in June 2024

The Board of Trustees at Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) announced today that President and CEO Beth Francis has decided to step down from her role at the foundation effective June 30, 2024.  After eight years at ECCF, and six years leading and transforming the foundation into a hub of support and collaboration for Essex County, Francis is ready to spend more time with family and pursue longtime personal interests.

“My time with ECCF has been the most rewarding years of my career, so finding the right moment to step back from this incredible organization was never going to be easy,” said Francis. “ECCF has evolved in so many remarkable ways, yet what I’m most proud of is the team of staff, board and volunteers that we’ve built here.”

“I have every confidence that, alongside a new leader and with the sustained support of this extraordinary community, ECCF will continue to grow stronger and expand its positive impact across the region,” she added.

ECCF Board Chair Dick Sumberg said that Francis has played a critical role in the development and success of the organization.

“Under Beth’s leadership, there’s been a significant increase in charitable contributions across the 34 cities and towns of Essex County and a rise in the number of community members partnering with ECCF to strengthen the region,” said Sumberg.

Additionally, new partnerships have been forged with state and private funders and these collaborations have had a direct impact on the lives of Essex County’s residents. ECCF has also expanded its commitment to helping nonprofits build their networks and capacity. And during the 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions and the COVID-19 pandemic, Francis’ steady and thoughtful leadership empowered ECCF to make an impact in Essex County in bigger ways than ever before.

“Beth’s vision and dedication guided ECCF towards positively impacting the lives of tens of thousands of Essex County residents,” added Sumberg.

In recent years, ECCF has not only supported the region through several pivotal moments, but the foundation has also convened the community around several vital social impact programs, including digital equity, arts and culture, economic empowerment and workforce development.

Francis’ key accomplishments include:

  • Growing ECCF charitable funds to 300+ and more than doubling the charitable assets for community impact to $128M;
  • Delivering $113M in philanthropic resources to nonprofits and students over eight years;
  • Deploying $24M in relief and response during the 2018 gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley, helping to support nearly 15,000 people and businesses impacted;
  • Raising and delivering $16M in COVID-19 crisis response resources in a multi-phased effort focused on pandemic relief, recovery and resilience;
  • And leading the development of ECCF’s first-ever racial equity strategy and Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund to more effectively fund organizations advancing equity in our region.

“It is impossible to sum up Beth’s many contributions to ECCF and to this community in a few words,” said Sumberg. “We are so grateful for her visionary leadership and enthusiasm for this work. She is stepping back from an ECCF that is stronger, more strategic and has an increased capacity to focus on elevating philanthropy and collaboration in service to Essex County.”

Now, ECCF’s focus also includes a leadership transition, which is centered around an exit strategy that ensures ECCF continues to seamlessly meet its goals while bringing on the foundation’s next dynamic leader.

“We wish Beth all the best in her next chapter and look ahead with enthusiasm to ECCF’s next chapter, too,” said Sumberg.

A search committee comprised of five board members will advance efforts – which will begin in November – to find Francis’ successor. The search committee is currently interviewing a select list of consultants to conduct the search.

Francis will remain in her position as CEO until June 30, 2024, continuing to lead ECCF and providing support to the board and staff through the transition period.

“I feel privileged to have been trusted with the responsibility to lead ECCF through so many pivotal moments,” said Francis, who has lived in Essex County for decades. “And I am grateful to this entire community for their support. It truly has been a privilege and an honor to serve the Foundation.”

Contact: Kelly Shea Knowles, Director of Marketing & Communications, k.sheaknowles@eccf.org

About Essex County Community Foundation

The mission of Essex County Community Foundation is to inspire philanthropy that strengthens the communities of Essex County. We do this by managing charitable assets, strengthening and supporting nonprofits and engaging in strategic community leadership. Since 1998, ECCF and its growing family of over 300 charitable funds have granted $157 million to nonprofits, schools and students in Essex County and beyond. Our ultimate goal is to have 34 thriving cities and towns in Essex County and to improve the quality of life for the region’s nearly 800,000 residents. Learn more at www.eccf.org.  

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