James Piereson and Sheila Johnston Mulcahy
The William E. Simon Foundation recently appointed James Piereson as its new president and Sheila Johnston Mulcahy as its vice president. Both have long associations with the Simon Foundation. Piereson has served as a board member since 1998. Mulcahy joined the foundation in 1999 as a program associate and recently served as program director before her new appointment.
For the past 20 years, Piereson was executive director and trustee of the John M. Olin Foundation, which spent down its assets as its donor requested and closed its doors at the end of 2005. Before joining the Olin Foundation, Piereson served on the political science faculties of Iowa State University, Indiana University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Within the next ten years, Piereson expects the Simon Foundation to make a significant impact in education, youth welfare, and religion. The foundation has approximately $153 million in assets and awarded grants of some $8.5 million in 2005 to over 200 religious, social welfare, and educational institutions. Its guiding credo is “helping people to help themselves.”
“In the broader public policy area,” says Piereson, “we’d certainly like to see faith play a larger role in discussions of key issues in the public square. We’d like to mount some serious programs that will contribute to that debate.” To that end, the foundation has been supporting thinkers and institutions doing innovative work in this area, such as Father Richard John Neuhaus at the Institute for Religion and Public Life, George Weigel at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Michael Novak at the American Enterprise Institute.
As program director, Sheila Mulcahy had already had broad responsibility for the Simon Foundation’s grant programs. According to Simon Foundation co-chair, J. Peter Simon, “Sheila has guided the programs of the Simon Foundation for the past several years with impressive skill and judgment. We are indebted to her for her work, and we have every confidence in her executive abilities. This is why we are adding to her responsibilities.”
In 1999, Mulcahy was a volunteer coordinator with a Catholic hospital in Manhattan when at the suggestion of William E. Simon Sr. she set up a meeting with Piereson to get advice on the non-profit sector. Little did she realize that she was being interviewed for a position at the Simon Foundation. She received an offer from Mr. Simon shortly thereafter.
Mulcahy, who holds a master’s degree from New York University, sees “the foundation becoming a leader in creating and supporting innovative solutions to fundamental needs.” In the areas of education and youth welfare, for instance, the foundation is building effective charter and private schools that will provide high-quality schooling for students in the New York City region, particularly the Bronx and Jersey City. Mulcahy is especially proud of how the foundation helped reverse declining enrollment in Jersey City Catholic elementary schools. The foundation issued a $150,000 grant in 2004 to develop a marketing strategy for the schools.
Since the marketing plan was put into effect, enrollment has either reversed itself, leveled off, or at least slowed its decline in half of the participating schools. In its first year, this resulted in nearly $600,000 in tuition dollars that the schools would have been without had the decline continued. And last year the foundation annou
nced a million-dollar challenge grant matching new or increased donations for the schools, which the schools have more than matched.
Given such results, foundation co-chair William E. Simon Jr. believes that “with Jim and Sheila’s leadership, the future of the Simon Foundation is bright indeed.”
The John William Pope Foundation of Raleigh, North Carolina, recently named David Riggs its vice president of operations and programs. Prior to joining the Pope Foundation, Riggs was the program officer for environment at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation in Washington, D.C. “Leaving a foundation that truly excels at advancing social progress was not an easy decision,” Riggs tells Philanthropy. “The John William Pope Foundation, however, is poised to bring a variety of breakthrough philanthropic endeavors to the state of North Carolina—as well as contribute on the national level—and I am thrilled to be a part of that future.”
Last year, the Pope Foundation distributed more than $7 million in the areas of health care, K-12 education, higher education, environmental policy, and civil justice reform. Donors John and Art Pope also fund the John Locke Foundation, which publishes studies and hosts events addressing wasteful government spending, tax burdens for families, unsafe communities, oppressive business regulations, and a decline of self-reliance and individual freedom, among other issues. The John Locke Foundation also founded the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, “which seeks to bring innovative thinking and critical analysis to the field of higher education in North Carolina and across the nation.”
Riggs applauds the Pope Foundation’s “demonstrated capabilities in building a nonprofit infrastructure that advances the well-being of all North Carolinians. The Foundation achieves this result through understanding, developing, and expanding the institutions in a free society that generate great wealth and allow freedom to flourish. I am looking forward to the opportunity to advance prosperity and freedom in North Carolina and beyond.”