News and Information about the nonprofit sector in Massachusetts. Check back frequently to keep informed.
April 16, 2021
Boston Foundation Names Lee Pelton as Next President & CEO
Lee Pelton
Lee Pelton

December 3, 2020 — The Boston Foundation, one of the top grant makers in Massachusetts, which supports a wide range of nonprofit organizations, yesterday announced that M. Lee Pelton will be its next president and CEO.

The Boston Foundation (TBF) said Pelton, selected following a national search, will take over next June. He succeeds Paul S. Grogan; who will step down after serving as president and CEO for nearly 20 years.

TBF’s search committee sought a successor “who demonstrated strategic thinking and appreciation for the challenges that face our city and region, and who had proven ability to lead on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and experience running complex organizations.”

Pelton will join TBF following a 30-year in higher education, most recently as president of Emerson College since 2011.

“Lee’s experience as a strong, seasoned leader who has innovated and managed in times of change uniquely places him to lead The Boston Foundation into a new era,” said J. Keith Motley, a TBF director and search committee co-chair. “His enthusiasm for our mission, along with a skill set that readily embraces the full range of what we do, makes him a strong choice to lead The Boston Foundation as our next president.”

Added Grogan, “Lee Pelton is a rare talent, a strong, respected voice and a force for social justice in Boston and beyond. He’s been a great partner and friend to the foundation during my time as president and CEO. I can’t imagine a better fit for the Boston Foundation as it enters its next era of work.”

Pelton said, “The Boston Foundation has no equal, and I am deeply honored by the board of directors’ faith in my capacity to continue to grow its mission, and to lead the foundation in addressing the challenges facing our city and region, promoting a just and equitable recovery from the pandemic and a long-overdue racial reckoning so we can build and sustain a vital, prosperous city and region, where justice and opportunity are extended to all.”

In addition to his role at Emerson College, Pelton is active in numerous civic, higher education, and philanthropic initiatives. In June, Mayor Martin J. Walsh named him to lead the Boston Racial Equity Fund. The Boston Business Journal named him one of the 100 most influential people in Boston in 2018.

He also serves as vice chair of the board of directors for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, chair of the Boston Arts Academy Foundation Board, and on the boards of trustees for GBH, Facing History and Ourselves, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, and the Barr Foundation.

Prior to Emerson, Pelton served 13 years as the president of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and earlier as dean of the college at Colgate University and Dartmouth College.

He graduated Wichita State University with a degree in English and psychology, and earned a Ph.D. in 19th century English and American literature at Harvard University.

Established in 1915, TBF is one of the largest community foundations in the nation—with net assets of $1.3 billion. In its 2020 fiscal year, the foundation and its donors paid $215 million in grants to nonprofit organizations.

SUBSCRIBE FREE – Keep current with the Wednesday Report emailed to you free each week. Click here.
Got news, advice, resources? Send it to