ST. PAUL, Minn. - The board of directors of the Northwest Area Foundation announced the selection of Kevin Walker as the new president and CEO of the 74-year-old organization March 27.
Walker replaces Karl Stauber, who resigned in June 2007 to become president and CEO of the Danville Regional Foundation in Danville, Va. Kari Schlachtenhaufen was named interim president in July 2007 and will continue to serve in that position until Walker joins the NWAF May 19.
Walker assumes this leadership post at a time of significant change for the NWAF. After nearly 10 years of sharp focus on a single mission - to reduce poverty in the long term - and an unconventional grant-making approach - to engage a few communities in long-term initiatives - the NWAF;s board of directors decided that significant changes in that approach would enable the NWAF to achieve greater impact.
In October 2007, the board reconfirmed the mission of poverty alleviation and, based on lessons learned over the last decade, changed the focus of how the work will be done. Going forward, the NWAF's core strategy will be to make grants to proven or promising organizations doing effective poverty-reduction work in their communities or in the region.
''Among grantmakers working on the challenges facing low-income Americans, the Northwest Area Foundation has established itself as a cutting-edge institution,'' Walker said. ''I'm looking forward to helping the foundation chart its future course and achieve even greater impact in the region.''
Walker brings extensive nonprofit and philanthropic experience to his new post. With the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Flint, Mich., for 13 years, he led that organization's Pathways Out of Poverty Program since 1999. That national anti-poverty initiative focused on improving education, expanding economic opportunity and building organized communities. Most recently, he served as Mott's associate vice president of programs, where he conducted strategic planning, guided grantmaking and oversaw evaluation in the national anti-poverty program and the foundation's efforts to enhance the quality of life in its home community of Flint.
''We are very fortunate to be bringing this level of national experience in anti-poverty work to our foundation,'' NWAF board chair Daniel Kemmis said. ''We're especially pleased with Kevin Walker's strong track record of team-building and collaboration, which fits perfectly with our renewed emphasis on working in partnership with other foundations and with proven or promising organizations across our eight-state region.''
That work can be seen in the Ventures porgram. The program was launched in 1999 in support of community poverty reduction strategies. Lummi Nation Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes all have partnered with NWAF through the Ventures program. A partnership that will last until 2016.
Walker has served on numerous nonprofit boards and committees, and has provided leadership on many, including Afterschool Alliance, a national advocacy organization dedicated to the vision of after school programs for all; Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families; Hispanics in Philanthropy; Voices for Michigan's Children; and the Flint Institute of Music. He has also served on several committees for the Council of Michigan Foundations.
Walker earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard University and his master's degree in fine arts from the University of Michigan. Walker and his wife Lisa have two young sons.
The NWAF's mission is to help reduce poverty long term in its eight-state region: Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. These states were served by the Great Northern Railway, founded by James J. Hill. In 1934, Hill's son, Louis W. Hill, established the foundation. To learn more, visit www.nwaf.org.