By BOTWC Staff
The Trust is an organization that was established over 100 years ago to bring together private donors, non-profit organizations and local residents under one philanthropic arm. Today it is one of the largest foundations in the world and is led by CEO Helene Gayle. Gayle is a public health physician and disease expert who joined the organization in 2017, previously serving as head of the international humanitarian organization CARE, and having spent twenty years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working on HIV/AIDS before that.
During his tenure, Gayle grew the Trust’s assets from approximately $2.8 billion to $4.7 billion. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, Gayle mobilized a response within days, managing a relief fund for Chicagoans that proved invaluable. She also led $1.7 billion in grants through the Trust and its donor-advised programs, also leading the foundation to adopt a 10-year strategic plan to address wealth inequality in the region, create a new policy team and transform the way it handles grantmaking. .
Today Gayle announced that she will step down as CEO in June to lead the illustrious Spelman College. Although unexpected, Gayle said she could not miss “the opportunity to continue to shape the lives of young women of African descent, many of whom have gone on to illustrious careers”.
She initially thought her work at the Trust would be her last job and is grateful to the city of Chicago and everyone at the Trust who helped make her time there such a success. She particularly noted the effective coalition building in the city that sparked an expansion of the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit and a cap on payday loans. Commitment to the community is something Gayle said she has never seen in another city and hopefully she can now bring the same spirit to beloved Spelman of Atlanta.
“Chicago welcomed me so warmly. It was a city that bleeds from Chicago and cares about its neighbors. And even though it’s still a deeply divided city, there really is a deep sense of interest in the city. It has an incredible civic footprint, a civic community that comes together in a way I’ve never seen in any of the cities,” Gayle said.
Congratulations, President Gayle! I wish you all the best as you step into your next role.
Photo courtesy of the Chicago Community Trust