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CEO Message: How Do You Say Goodbye?

by Ellen LaPointe, President and CEO, Northern California Grantmakers

Yesterday was a blur. Immediately after we finally hit “send” on the announcement of my departure from NCG to become the CEO of Fenway Health in Boston I was besieged with good wishes via email and text and social media. It felt good. But tonight, as I sit in my living room reflecting on the day, I am feeling some sadness. I am really, really going to miss all of you.

I could not be prouder of what we have accomplished together. The NCG community is vibrant, connected, and active. People and institutions are taking more risks. We are beginning to hold ourselves and each other more accountable to take on racial equity. We take time to celebrate one another, and to laugh together. And we continue to push for more progress.

The NCG staff is a wonderful group of talented, dedicated people. I look forward to coming to work every morning and I take enormous pride in witnessing their achievements with and on behalf of our member community.  They look out for each other, they challenge one another, and they always, always respect and honor one another. Also: we laugh together a lot. The thought of leaving them really hurts my heart.

So why go?

I spent the first part of my career working in HIV/AIDS research and policy.  Like many in the eighties and nineties, I lost friends and loved ones to AIDS. I have long been an admirer of the extraordinary, path-breaking role that Fenway Health plays in the provision and advancement of top-quality healthcare for LGBTQIA+ people and in the fight against HIV/AIDS. And while LGBTQIA+ people now have access to opportunities many never dreamed we might see in our lifetimes, there remain substantial unmet needs in our communities and continued threats to our hard-won gains. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this important organization at a critical time, when so much is at stake. And I am also a native Mainer with strong ties there still. So this is a bit of a returning home for me too.  

Although it is difficult to say goodbye, I am comforted by the fact that NCG could not be any stronger. We have an incredibly talented and committed team, a vibrant Board, a clear path and plan, and the resources we need to get the job done. And the broader NCG community is mobilized, united, and working hard to advance the common good. 

Working with all of you has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career. Thank you. You can know that I will be rooting for you from the other coast, while trying to stay warm in winter and avoid the humidity in summer. Please do look me up if you are ever in Boston. I’ll buy you a cuppa chowdah…

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