by Moxye Staff

The Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) has named Dr. Shanaysha Sauls as its new CEO, replacing outgoing CEO Tom Wilcox, who led BCF since 2000. Sauls previously served as CEO of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women and former chair of the Baltimore City school board.

Sauls has been CEO and operator of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women since 2015. She is the first minority and the first woman to lead the Baltimore Community Foundation.

Her prior experience ranges from consulting on strategic direction and marketing for colleges and universities to teaching political theory at American University. She also taught English in Baltimore-area high schools.

Open Society Institute-Baltimore worked closely with Sauls on reducing suspensions when she was chair of the school board and Sauls has served on OSI’s Leadership Council since 2014.

“My longtime focus has been about improving lives of people all across Baltimore, and BCF affects every single Baltimorean in a way that no other institution can, through its issue advocacy, philanthropic investments and partnerships with community and the public sector,” Sauls said in a statement.

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Wilcox, 69, had led the Baltimore Community Foundation since 2000. He announced his retirement last March.

Some of Sauls’ other experience includes being a founding board member of both the Patterson Park Public Charter School and the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance.

Baltimore Community Foundation Board Chair Laura Gamble, chair of the Baltimore Community Foundation, said in a statement Sauls’ “grounding in political theory and systems” and her experience in education made her the best choice to lead the foundation. She also chaired Baltimore City’s Board of School Commissioners from 2013-2015.

“BCF embarked on a new strategic plan in 2017, with a renewed commitment to broad community engagement and racial equity,” Gamble said. “BCF will continue to focus its efforts on strengthening neighborhoods and investing in Baltimore’s future by improving public education.”

BCF Search Committee co-chair Josh Fidler described Sauls as a “high energy, inspirational and accomplished executive with an intimate knowledge of Baltimore’s neighborhoods and people.”

Stuart Simms, the other co-chair, said Sauls’ “keen intellect and demonstration of principled leadership” also helped her get appointed.

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“She has a trait of asking the right questions—not the convenient questions, but questions that get at guiding principles,” Simms said.

Under Wilcox’s leadership, the Community Foundation’s grant making grew from an average of $5 million per year in the 1990s to more than $25 million annually.

The BCF was also at the forefront of community activism following the unrest in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray. A fund specifically established after the riots raised $750,000 in a year.

Wilcox recently oversaw a campaign that raised $100 million to be put toward city schools and other education programs.

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