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Michael Johnston to step down as head of Hartford’s Jewish Community Foundation

By Judie Jacobson

HARTFORD – Michael Johnston, who has served as CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford (JCF) since 2012, is stepping down from his position at the end of the month, it was announced recently by Leigh Newman, chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Johnston is leaving JCF to launch a new, large-scale global philanthropic enterprise for billionaire entrepreneur Daniel Lubetzky. The son of a Holocaust survivor, Lubetzky is founder and owner of the company that produces KIND bars. According to Newman, while Johnston’s will work in New York, according to Newman, he and his wife, Corinne, will continue to reside locally.

In a Dec. 18 letter to JCF donors and partners, Newman spoke of the “strong legacy” Johnston is leaving the Foundation and the community at large.

Kathryn Gonnerman

“Under Michael’s leadership and vision, the Foundation has grown and flourished to include numerous initiatives to strengthen the Greater Hartford Jewish community,” she said. “Among those initiatives: “The $45 million Aim Chai Endowment Campaign which introduced a new culture of collaboration across the community, the new Center for Innovative Philanthropy, the JMAP community-wide study, a 40% growth in assets from $82 million to a current level of $115 million, and more.”

Newman also announced the appointment of Kathryn Gonnerman as the organization’s interim president and CEO.

Gonnerman, who joined JCF several years ago as director of communications, currently serves as director of the Foundation’s Center for Innovative Philanthropy, which was created in 2015 to introduce groundbreaking approaches to philanthropy and provides resources, education, and proactive support for donors, non-profit organizations and the community as a whole.

According to Newman, a seven-member search committee headed by former JCF board chair David Miller has been assembled to identify a new CEO. It is estimated the search process will take 6-9 months.

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