In June, Preston (“Pete”) Geren III was named president of the Sid W. Richardson Foundation in Fort Worth, Texas. “The Richardson Foundation has touched so many lives in the community and state where I grew up,” says the Fort Worth native. “It is has long been a key part of the educational, social services, and cultural heritage of Texas.”
Sid W. Richardson made his fortune in the Texas oil boom of the 1920s and 30s. For years, he rose and fell with the booms and the busts. His big break came in 1933. Just a few miles east of the New Mexico border, Richardson tapped the small but intensely rich Keystone Field. A few years later, he struck again, this time in Louisiana, opening fields in Cox Bay and Pointe à la Hache. By then one of America’s wealthiest men, he expanded his holdings into cattle and ranching. In 1947, he established the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, endowed with his oilfields.
Geren looks forward to helping the foundation continue its wide-ranging work, especially the field of education. “Education has always been a major focus of the foundation, and it will continue to be a strong emphasis of the work we do,” he explains. “Among other initiatives, the foundation is committed to investing in improving human capital with programs like Teach For America. We are working to help school districts bring high-quality teachers to the state—through both traditional and alternative means.”
After serving as senior advisor and president-elect of the foundation since March 2010, Geren is replacing Valleau Wilkie Jr., who retired in June 2011 after heading the foundation since 1973. “He served as my teacher and mentor over the last year,” Geren says of Wilkie. “I count it a privilege to have spent a year working with Val in preparation for my new role.”
Before joining the foundation, Geren was appointed by President George W. Bush as the 20th Secretary of the Army. In 1989, he succeeded Jim Wright, representing Texas’ 12th congressional district as a Democrat until 1997. He has held leadership positions in numerous civic, educational, and philanthropic organizations in Fort Worth and around Texas.
“In Pete Geren,” says Edward P. Bass, chairman of the Richardson Foundation, “we have a remarkably talented and well-prepared new leader to assume the presidency of the foundation. In addition to having excellent managerial expertise and skills in working with people in organizations of all scales, he understands philanthropy and nonprofit organizations, which will help us advance our mission.”