Rice impressive pick for Seattle Foundation
Former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice is a natural choice to head the philanthropic Seattle Foundation. In challenging times for philanthropy, Rice's skilled leadership and deep community ties are critical assets.
TAPPING former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice to head the philanthropic Seattle Foundation ensures strong continuity for one of the largest community foundations in the nation.
The foundation merges funds from donors including smaller and family-led foundations to benefit efforts around housing and food, health and wellness, education, economy, arts and culture, neighborhoods and the environment.
Rice is no stranger to those issues or to the nonprofit world. He has been chairman of Enterprise Community Partners, a national affordable-housing nonprofit and along with his wife, Constance Rice, chaired the United Way of King County campaign in 2006.
Rice has a reputation for creative ideas and galvanizing the city around them. Two signature accomplishments of his leadership are the downtown revitalization and the Families and Education levy. The levy, approved by voters since 1990, funds learning-related needs, such as early-childhood education, after-school programs and health-care centers in high schools.
Rice has become our city's go-to guy for civic needs. He recently co-chaired with Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke the Metropolitan King County Council advisory committee to replace former County Executive Ron Sims.
Rice's new job comes at a challenging moment in philanthropy. Overall giving has shrunk amid recessionary pressures. Donations to the Seattle Foundation have dropped by 20 percent, Seattle Times business reporter Kristi Heim reported last fall. Charities are going through significant changes as they shift to more cost-effective strategies.
At the same time the growth of social-networking offers more avenues for accessing and broadening giving, it has created more competition for funds. Now is the time for the creative thinking Rice is known for.
Able stewardship by former CEO Phyllis Campbell left the Seattle Foundation with a cushion. It has more than $600 million in assets. Rice's reputation as a visionary who gets things done offers another encouraging sign for turbulent times.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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