By BOTWC Staff
The Trust is an organization that was established more than 100 years ago to bring together private donors, nonprofits and local residents together under one philanthropic arm. Today, it is one of the largest foundations in the world and is spearheaded by CEO Helene Gayle. Gayle is a public health doctor and disease expert who joined the organization in 2017, previously serving as head of international humanitarian organization CARE, and serving twenty years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working on HIV/AIDS prior to that.
During her tenure, Gayle has grown the Trust’s assets from about $2.8 billion to $4.7 billion. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, Gayle mobilized a response in days, managing a relief fund for Chicagoans that proved invaluable. She also spearheaded $1.7 billion in grants through the Trust and its donor-advised programs, also leading the foundation to embrace a 10-year strategic plan to tackle wealth inequity in the area, create a new policy team, and transform the way it handles grantmaking.
Now Gayle has announced that she will be stepping down as CEO in June to lead the illustrious Spelman College. While unexpected, Gayle said she could not miss out on “the opportunity to continue a legacy of shaping the lives of young women of African descent, many of whom have gone on to have illustrious careers.”
Initially, she 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 Illinois’ Earned Income Tax Credit and a cap on payday loans. The commitment to community is something Gayle said she’s never seen in another city and hopefully, she can now bring that same spirit to Atlanta’s beloved Spelman.
“Chicago welcomed me so warmly. This was a city that bleeds Chicago and cares about its neighbors. And even though this is a city that is still deeply divided, there really is a sense of deep caring for the city. It’s got an incredible civic footprint, a civic community that pulls together in ways I’ve never seen in any of the cities,” said Gayle.
Congratulations, President Gayle! Wishing you all the best as you step into your next role.
Photo Courtesy of The Chicago Community Trust