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May 18, 2022
Gr. Worcester Comm. Foundation Names Jim Ayers as Next CEO
Jim Ayres
Jim Ayers

November 22, 2021 — The Greater Worcester Community Foundation, based in Worcester, today announced that it has appointed Jim Ayres, a veteran nonprofit leader in western Massachusetts, as its new president and chief executive officer.

Ayres succeeds Barbara Fields, who abruptly stepped down as CEO of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation (GWCF) last March after 19 months in the job. GWCF board member Carolyn Stempler, a previous board chair, has been serving as interim CEO since then.

Ayers will take up his new responsibilities on Jan. 3, leading a team of 11 employees.

“After a thorough search with the Foundation’s priorities in mind, Jim emerged as the unanimous choice to lead as the new CEO,” said J. Christopher Collins, board chair. “The Greater Worcester Community Foundation is focused on promoting broader awareness of how philanthropy can offer leadership and support to address critical needs in Worcester and Worcester County.

“With Jim’s history of building community, through gathering voices with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, he has the essential qualifications, energy, and expertise to strengthen our organizational leadership and propel this entire organization, and our varied missions, forward.”

Ayers currently is principal consultant of Strategies for Collaborative Impact and Justice Consulting, which he founded.

Prior to that, he served as vice president of programs and strategy for the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, interim president/CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley, and as CEO/executive director of the United Way of Hampshire County.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Greater Worcester Community Foundation,” said Ayres. “The foundation is a tremendously important and impressive organization, and I believe this is an exciting point in time for the foundation, the city, and region.”

Ayres holds Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampshire College, a Masters in International Affairs degree in non-governmental organizations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts.

Collins lauded Stempler for her “commitment, professionalism, and understanding of the foundation’s needs during this time were invaluable and we were so lucky to have her.”

GWCF said will Ayers will focus on issues related to strategic direction, governance, program development, business operations, financial management, personnel management, and community relations. The foundation said it is currently working on arts/culture initiatives, as well as looking at community issues through the lens of racial disparity.

Established in 1975, the foundation today manages assets of $80 million. To date, it has awarded $169 million to cultural educational, human service, and civic organizations.

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