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Molly Paul leaving Brookline community foundation

Posted by Tom Coakley  January 27, 2010 02:20 PM

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The Brookline Community Foundation, which has become an increasingly important part of the town’s non-profit sector, is looking for a new executive director.

Molly Paul announced Jan. 11 that she will be leaving the helm of the organization, as of this spring, when the board is hoping to hire her replacement. She has been executive director for the last four years.

The 21-member Board of Directors is already advertising the full-time, paid position on its website and other online media.

“We have an aggressive search timeline,” said Tom Mendelsohn, chair of the foundation’s board. “Fortunately, we have a strong staff and a board that is very community-based and active.”

Paul joined the organization 10 years ago after it morphed into a community foundation. Founded in 1878 by temperance activists as the Brookline Friendly Society , it has become increasingly important as the economy slipped.

“Molly has been a terrific leader, moving the mission forward especially during such challenging economic times,” said board member Molly Lanzarotta .

The “Brookline Safety Net,” which is funded through the foundation and administered by the Brookline Community Mental Health Center “has been a lifeline for people in Brookline who have lost jobs, services or utilities,” Lanzarotta said. “It’s been vital in keeping the fabric of Brookline’s community from unraveling.”

In fact, the foundation met its annual appeals goals this year despite sagging salaries, said board member Carla Benka . Because of its funding structure, the foundation can devote 100 percent of donations to grant and other charitable purposes, such as the Safety Net, Benka said.

Those amounts have risen significantly during her tenure, Paul said, allowing the foundation to become more involved with programs benefitting low income people in Brookline. One such is Steps to Success, which provides the out-of-school enrichment, tutoring and support to low income students in Brookline’s Public Schools that middle-class children already enjoy.

“We were able to help it grow from small pieces to a full-scale, model program,” Paul said. In addition, the Safety Net has tripled its capacity. “It’s been very helpful, particularly this last year,” she said.

Much of what the foundation now does, besides funding, is providing “quiet, behind-the-scenes stuff,” Paul said, like helping groups coordinate, work together and become more effective.

Paul said she is proudest of the reputation of the foundation as a valued community institution, with a terrific board and staff “all rowing in the same direction.”

Paul said she is leaving to have more time for her family; her parents are ailing, her four children and two young grandchildren live mostly on the west coast, and she felt pulled in several directions. In addition, she and her partner have just purchased a home in Concord, where she hopes to write a memoir about her father’s role in starting a law school in Ethiopia , and to raise chickens and vegetables.

The executive director job description can be found online at www.brooklinecommunity.org . Applications will be accepted until Feb. 19 .

Andreae Downs can be reached at andreaedowns@yahoo.com.

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