By William K. Alcorn
A change in top leadership is coming to the Raymond J. Wean Foundation, but its core values and mission will not change, says Gordon Wean, board chairman.
Jeffrey M. Glebocki is stepping down as president of the Wean Foundation but will stay on for 90 days to ease the transition and ensure the organization’s work continues while the search for a successor is conducted.
Glebocki, a Northeast Ohio native who came to the Wean Foundation in 2011 from Arizona, said he is returning to Tucson, Ariz., to expand Strategy + Action Consulting, LLC, a company he founded six years ago that serves as an advisor to philanthropic institutions around the country.
Soon after becoming foundation president, Glebocki said he saw that though it had been highly successful in building organizational capacity for its community partners, the foundation had not paid enough attention to itself.
As a result, he said he made it a priority to increase the foundation’s efforts to build its own internal ability to sustain its community-change efforts by implementing new strategies and enhancing many of those already in place.
Crediting the hard work of the staff and the leadership of the board, Glebocki said that over the last two years, the foundation has experienced tremendous organizational development and the groundwork for a sustainable future has been laid.
However, the next phase of development, Glebocki said, calls for a foundation president with a different bundle of interests and experience than his, and that the position’s job description is being revised to meet those future evolving needs.
“What I have hopefully contributed is a sense of organization development and addressing internal capacity, putting the foundation in a better place to sustain its abilities to be the agent for community change to which it aspires,” Glebocki said.
“We will certainly cast a wide net for a new president, but we will also be looking heavily for candidates in Northeast Ohio and in the Mahoning Valley,” he said.
Glebocki said among the Wean Foundation’s greatest strengths are its high aspirations for the Mahoning Valley and its willingness to take risks in its grant making and investments and policies to make the changes needed.
He pointed to the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. as an example of a risk worth taking.
In 2009, the Wean Foundation and the city of Youngstown started the YNDC. Today, YNDC has a multi-million budget with more than 35 public and private fund sources. The YNDC leveraged those initial dollars many times over and has built a talented staff, and now the Wean Foundation invests $350,000 a year in the organization, Glebocki said.
The Wean Foundation’s goal is to be a force in the Valley forever, said Gordon Wean.
“Jeff [Glebocki] helped us look at ourselves and how we could be better and be sustainable. He is leaving us solid internally, and I’m optimistic about the foundation’s and the valley’s future,” Wean said.
The foundation board is working carefully and deliberately in getting a new president. “We want to get it right, and if the process takes a little time, that’s okay,” he said.
The vision for the foundation’s future is closely tied to the vision for the Mahoning Valley.
“We want it to be a place where people want to live, have living-wage jobs, a good education, where communities are engaged and involved and connected and where people live in neighborhoods of their choice. The Wean Foundation tries to fund programs that will bring us to that place,” he said.
The people of the Valley are its biggest asset. There are good people here and more coming here. If they are given the tools to help chart their course forward, the sky is the limit for Youngstown and Warren, Wean said.
The foundation is not going anywhere and isn’t changing its core values and is deeply committed to the Valley.
“The type of change work we’re engaged in sometimes seems like you are pushing a rock up the hill. This is not for the faint- of-heart and the impatient. It isn’t the kind of work where you get where you want to be overnight, but when you get closer and closer, that’s success,” Wean said.