The Atlantic Philanthropies recently appointed Gara LaMarche as its new president and chief executive officer and also elected him to its board. LaMarche, vice president and director of U.S. programs for George Soros’s Open Society Institute since 1996, will help lead Atlantic in its plan to sunset by 2016, disbursing its remaining endowment of approximately $4 billion.
LaMarche served as associate director of Human Rights Watch and director of its Free Expression Project from 1990 until 1996, and as director of the Freedom-to-Write Program of the PEN America Center from 1988 to 1990. He also worked in a variety of positions at the American Civil Liberties Union, serving as associate director of the ACLU’s New York branch, and executive director of the Texas Civil Liberties Union. Additionally, LaMarche teaches a course in philanthropy and public policy at New York University’s Wagner School.
“Gara LaMarche’s impressive past accomplishments, clarity of vision, steady judgment and sincerity of purpose exemplify the kind of leadership Atlantic requires to make the significant and measurable changes demanded by our philosophy of ‘giving while living,’” said Atlantic’s founding chairman, Charles F. Feeney.
Atlantic Philanthropies focuses its grantmaking on aging people, disadvantaged children, population health, and reconciliation and human rights within seven geographic regions: Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam. Since its inception in 1982, the organization has made more than $3.5 billion in grants.
“I admire Atlantic’s boldness in tackling these challenges,” says LaMarche. “I hope we can look back and say that Atlantic had a lasting impact on the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people and strengthened frontline organizations devoted to addressing some of the world’s most pressing concerns.”
The Noyce Foundation of Palo Alto, California, recently named Ron Ottinger its new executive director.
Ottinger co-founded the nonprofit AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Center, where he worked as national associate director and helped the program grow from its foundation in San Diego to 40 states and 15 countries, reaching nearly 200,000 students in around 3,000 middle and high schools.
Ottinger served on the San Diego City Schools’ Board of Education from 1992 to 2004 and is the district’s longest-serving board president. In 1993, he authored the “Classrooms First Policy,” which reallocated local funds to reduce class size from over 30 to 25 in grades one and two, and later served as a model for California’s class size reduction program for grades K-3 adopted in 1996. Ottinger also initiated a new student achievement accountability system and co-led a citywide after-school program.
Like Ottinger, the Noyce Foundation is “dedicated to stimulating ideas and supporting initiatives designed to produce significant improvement in teaching and learning in mathematics, science and literacy in grades K-12.”
The Noyce family created the foundation in 1990 to honor the legacy of Dr. Robert N. Noyce, co-founder of Intel and the inventor of the integrated circuit whose success led to the personal computer revolution.
“What an extraordinary man he was,” says Ottinger, “and what an example for all of us on the value of innovation, of taking calculated risk, and not being afraid to try something and have it fail, and try again. The values which come from his work and how he approached the development of Intel permeate the foundation.”
Ottinger expects the foundation will continue to look for entrepreneurial educators who are engaged in innovative work. “Who are the new entrepreneurs and how can we help them?”
The foundation is also investigating ways to bring stimulating science activities to youth after school and in the summer. “Policymakers, business leaders and educators want to increase the number and diversity of young people going into science, engineering and technology professions, and that is more likely to occur if we can change the image of those professions through experiences that build confidence, competence and excitement.”