Chicago Community Trust CEO Dr. Helene Gayle resigns and will lead Spelman College | Black voices | Chicago News

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The first black woman to lead the Chicago Community Trust, Dr. Helene Gayle, will step down in June to become president of Spelman College in Atlanta.

Gayle has served as president and CEO of the trust for the past five years, leading one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, which awards millions of dollars in grants each year to organizations in local non-profit.

“It was really, probably my toughest career decision,” Gayle said. “When I was asked if I would consider leading this iconic institution, it was hard not to take it seriously and for me, at the end of a very long career, to be able to feel that I can give back to the community. next generation and especially for the next generation of black women who are changemakers and leaders and really want to make a difference in the world, I just felt like this was kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity where I think there is greater appreciation for the role of historically black colleges and universities than ever before.

Under Gayle’s leadership, the Chicago Community Trust changed its strategic focus to close the racial and ethnic wealth gap in Chicago.

“We have, in fact, made wealth inequality our priority because we recognize, first and foremost, that it is the right and fair thing to do,” Gayle said. “But we also recognize that in a region that is two-thirds black and brown, the region cannot move forward unless we really think about how to make sure those who have been left out of economic opportunity have this opportunity to succeed.. It will make a difference for these communities, for these households and individuals, but it will also make a big difference for our whole region.

Part of Gayle’s tenure was during the pandemic, which exposed or highlighted already existing inequities in health care. Gayle says her background as a public health doctor helped her navigate the situation.

“I really felt like I was in many ways in the right place at the right time, because not only were we able to focus on economic inequality issues, but also on health inequality, and the two go together,” Gayle said. mentioned.

Gayle is the first woman and second person of color to lead the Chicago Community Trust, a 107-year-old foundation.


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