Sometimes a blogger has the joy of sharing good newss. But sometimes you have to be the sharer of sad news.
Today, Mary McClymont has announced that she will be leaving as President of the Public Welfare Foundation, effective when a replacement is in place, probably late 2017.
While, of course, we know that Mary will continue to make massive and unique contributions to the world, and particularly to a just world, wherever and whatever she does, for those of us in the access to justice world, this can not be seen as anything other than a loss for the future.
I have had the honor and prieledge to work closely with Mary for the last few years, and while I have dealt with many funders in a variety of contexts, I simply have never worked with one with the same sensitivity to the balance between leadership and respect for those with whom one is working. It is always a complex issue. I have sometimes quipped that many funders would refuse to tell you what they want, but expect you to figure it out and do it, while Mary would always tell you what she thought, but urge you do to what you felt right. That requires an astonishing confidence and ability to trust.
There will be, I am sure, much appropriate marking of Mary’s achievements in the next year, but the core point is that Mary was never constrained by the consensus. Rather she has always pushed at the boundaries, whether in her support of exploration of “Roles Beyond Lawyers,” her funding of development of outcome measures, her broad 100% access view, the creation of the communications strategy, or the general insistence that collaboration should be more than lip-service with its huge impact at all levels, to name just a few.
I hope that this development will spur stakeholders to take full advantage of Mary’s convening and persuasive skills in the next year to ensure a solid and indestructible foundation on which 100% access to Justice will be built.
The full text of Mary’s letter to the grantees is below:
December 2, 2016
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
I wanted you to know that I have shared with the Public Welfare Foundation’s Board of Directors my decision to step down as president late next year to transition to a new chapter in my life. I will leave the Foundation once my successor has been selected and is on board, by late 2017. No time is ideal to step away, but I wanted to give ample notice so the Foundation can carry out a smooth transition.
Parting from what I consider to be the “best job around” is not easy but as I now enter the start of my seventh year here, I will be leaving at a point when I believe the Foundation is doing remarkable and important work—with a strong, engaged board of directors deeply committed to the values and the ongoing programs of the Foundation; and with a smart, capable and energetic staff implementing our mission so effectively.
My colleagues and I are most gratified to see you, our outstanding grantees, winning victories and making a real difference in the world day after day. The challenges raised by recent political developments make it abundantly clear this work is needed more than ever. I know the Foundation stands ready to do all it can to resolutely support the work.
It has been my very good fortune to lead this organization on a set of social justice issues of great importance to our society. Our operating philosophy to carry out our “justice” mission is near and dear to my heart: Pushing for transformative change however we can best and most strategically help make it happen, and on social and economic justice concerns that, unfortunately, don’t often get the attention they merit
My plan is to step away from a full-time professional commitment. I communicated this to the Board before the election. Especially now, though, I remain ever more committed to find additional ways I can contribute to social justice and human rights work, both internationally and domestically.
In January, you will hear more about the Board’s search process. I know it will be deliberate and inclusive of a wide range of input. Meanwhile, in the year ahead, I will be fully engaged with all of you to protect our gains and to advance our progressive goals. I am so grateful to all of you who have made and continue to make this opportunity so fulfilling and such a joy for me, personally and professionally.