The Chronicle of Philanthropy Highlights Elise Westhoff’s Accomplishments at the Roundtable

On May 8, 2023, Philanthropy Roundtable President and CEO Elise Westhoff announced she is stepping down as CEO to focus on her family during an exciting period of change in their lives. Westhoff’s last day will be May 31, 2023. Senior Vice President of Policy and Programs Christie Herrera will become the interim president and CEO on June 1 as the board launches a search for a permanent leader.

Today, The Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article commemorating Westhoff’s achievements at the Roundtable, highlighting her tenacity in leading the organization to new heights during her three-year tenure. Read the full article here.

Below are excerpts from the article:

“‘I have young children and the last three years have been truly wonderful, but being a CEO is intense. There is a lot of travel involved and a lot of time and passion and dedication. I have poured my whole heart into the Philanthropy Roundtable for the last three years. I came to the realization with my family that I needed to pour my whole heart into them for some time’ she says. ‘It’s been a difficult and emotional decision, but I know it’s the right one.’

“Westhoff says she got the most joy from the group’s community of donors and the team she assembled at the Roundtable. ‘The people around me during my last three years are people that will be lifelong friends,’ she says. ‘I will treasure my time with each one of them.’

“Richard Graber, the Roundtable’s chairman and CEO of the conservative Bradley Foundation, had only high praise for Westhoff. ‘Elise has been a tremendous leader, the leader that we thought she would be when we hired her three years ago. She’s done a fantastic job,’ he said. ‘We’re disappointed that she’s leaving, but, boy, we’ve got to respect and honor her decision to devote more time to her young family.’”

“Westhoff sees that collaboration as a continuation of her earlier, more pointed messages. ‘We need to have an open, honest dialogue about really difficult issues that we’re facing as a society. And we need to criticize ideas in a way that’s respectful,’ she says. ‘I don’t have any regrets about anything I’ve written or said. I think it’s all consistent.’

“‘In the philanthropy world, we are here to solve problems. We are here to find the best ways to tackle some of the most challenging and difficult issues that are facing our society,’ [Westhoff] continues. ‘We’re not here to virtue signal. We’re here to have tough conversations and to find the best ways to uplift communities and empower individuals to achieve their potential. And that requires having tough conversations and being able to then break bread at the end of the day.’

“Westhoff has also championed the group’s True Diversity campaign — she lists it as among her biggest accomplishments as CEO. The campaign advocates for viewing diversity not only by gender and race or religion but by the individual experiences and characteristics that make people unique. Westhoff says that she is proud that the group has been able to be a leader on this issue.”

“The real proof of Westhoff’s effectiveness as a leader is the health of the organization, says Les Lenkowsky, a co-founder of Institute for Educational Affairs, which later became the Roundtable, and a professor emeritus at Indiana University. Does it have more members, and how are its finances? Perhaps taking on ‘woke philanthropy’ helped to draw more people into the organization.”

Continue reading “Philanthropy Roundtable CEO Elise Westhoff Is Stepping Down,” at The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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