News and analysis
November 06, 2015

Helmsley Charitable Trust Gets New CEO With Business Experience

Stephanie Cuskley previously served as chief executive of NPower, which provides technology assistance and training. She also has worked for investment banks including Drexel Burnham Lambert and JPMorgan Chase.
Stephanie Cuskley, a nonprofit and financial-services veteran, will be the new chief executive of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, replacing John Ettinger, the trust said in a statement today.

Previously, Ms. Cuskley, 55, served as chief executive of NPower, a national group that provides free technology training to individuals and skilled volunteers to schools and charities. Before that, Ms. Cuskley worked for investment banks, including Drexel Burnham Lambert and JPMorgan Chase.

At NPower, Ms. Cuskley said, foundations provided finanical support as well as expertise. That’s how she wants the Helmsley Trust to operate under her leadership.

"If you’re going to be a great foundation, you need to be a great foundation to your grantees," she said. "People underestimate the role of a foundation in helping the grantee community."The Helmsley Trust, which posted $5.4 billion in assets last year, supports a number of health programs, including efforts to improve rural health care and treat Type I diabetes. It also supports programs in New York and Israel and efforts to improve education and assist vulnerable children.

Ms. Cuskley said she did not envision making changes in grant priorities in the near term.

Mr. Helmsley, who invested in real estate beginning in the 1930s, died in 1997. After his widow's death in 2007 and a court battle over her estate, the Helmsley Charitable Trust sold off several large assets from her estate, formalized its grant-making priorities, and began making large gifts.

Mr. Ettinger, 64, joined the organization in 2012 and built the trust’s administration, investment, and programmatic operations.

"Today the trust has completed the initial phase of building staff and programs and is well positioned in terms of operations and grant making," the philanthropy’s trustees said in a statement.

Ms. Cuskley will begin her new job on November 30.

Note: This article was revised on November 10 to give a more complete description of NPower and of the origins of the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Send an email to Alex Daniels.