News and analysis
May 22, 2015

People in Philanthropy: Sierra Club Picks 1st Black Board President

Sierra Club
Aaron Mair
The Sierra Club has appointed Aaron Mair, an epidemiological-spatial analyst with the New York State Department of Health, to lead its board of directors. He is the first African-American to hold the position, making him a rarity at green nonprofits. A report commissioned last year by the advocacy group Green 2.0 on diversity at environmental organizations found that only 12 percent of their top executives, and less than 5 percent of their board members, were members of minorities.

Mr. Mair joined the Sierra Club in 1999 after helping his community in Arbor Hills, N.Y., battle a solid-waste incinerator that caused residents, including two of his daughters, to develop respiratory illnesses. Since then, he has been active in the Hudson Mohawk Group of the nonprofit’s Atlantic Chapter and has helped with the "Clean Up the Hudson" campaign, which pushed General Electric to account for its pollution of the Upper Hudson.

Mr. Mair plans to strengthen the Sierra Club’s grass roots and build a more diverse environmental movement during his presidency. "The equal treatment of all humanity and nature," he said in a statement, "can only come from a point of respecting diversity, when people see other people as fellow human beings and not as competitors sharing the planet."

Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

David Bancroft, former executive director of Just Label It, a project of Organic Voices, was named executive director.

Brooklyn Museum

Anne Pasternak, president and artistic director of Creative Time, an organization that presents free public art events and exhibits throughout New York, was appointed director. She starts on September 1.

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Peter Laugharn, executive director of the Firelight Foundation, was named chief executive. He begins on January 1, 2016.

Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University

Kyle Caldwell, director of the Pathways to Opportunity grant-making team at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, will be executive director. He begins on August 1.

The Fund Raising School at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and chief executive officer of the Indiana Youth Institute, will become director on June 29.

Grameen Foundation

Alex Counts, founder and chief executive, will resign later this month; David Edelstein, executive vice president for global programs, will serve as interim chief executive.

JA Worldwide

Asheesh Advani, chief executive of Covestor, an online investment management marketplace that was acquired by Interactive Brokers, was appointed chief executive.

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Sam Gill, vice president at Freedman Consulting, will be vice president for learning and impact. He starts on June 22.

John Templeton Foundation

John M. Templeton, Jr., former president and chairman, died on May 16 in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He was 75.

McGregor Fund

Kate Levin Markel, chief operating officer, was promoted to chief executive.

Operation Homefront

Brig. Gen. John Pray Jr., an Air Force veteran who served as interim president of the United Service Organizations, was named chief executive.

United Way of Salt Lake

Bill Crim, senior vice president for collective impact and public policy, was promoted to chief executive.

Vermont Symphony Orchestra

Alan Jordan, executive director, has resigned.

Send an e-mail to Anais Strickland.