Eric Weinheimer named new President and CEO of Donors Forum

The Board of Directors of Donors Forum announced Eric Weinheimer as the new President and CEO of Donors Forum, effective July 1, 2014. He will succeed Valerie S. Lies, who will retire on June 30 after 27 years in that position.

Eric Weinheimer, new CEO of Donors Forum
Eric Weinheimer, new CEO of Donors Forum

Mr. Weinheimer is currently President and CEO of The Cara Program, a nationally recognized, Chicago-based nonprofit that provides training, job placement, and support services to adults in Chicago struggling with poverty.

He joins as only the third President and CEO of Donors Forum, the Illinois state membership association of grantmakers, nonprofits, and their advisors.

“Eric has the energy, skills, and vision to take Donors Forum to the next level and build an active and engaged coalition of partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, as outlined in the goals of Engaging for Impact, our strategic plan,” said Donald A. Cooke, Donors Forum Board Chair and Senior Vice President of Philanthropy at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “We look forward to working with Eric and building on the strong platform and legacy that Valerie has so successfully put in place.”

Mr. Weinheimer is also the first nonprofit practitioner to lead Donors Forum in its 40-year history, particularly noteworthy in light of the organization’s strategic plan goals.

A national search began about a year ago, when Ms. Lies announced she would retire in June, 2014. “During the search process it was clear that Mr. Weinheimer had the proven track record, leadership, and innovative ideas necessary to serve Donors Forum in this role,” said Caren Yanis, Chair of the Search Committee, Donors Forum Executive Committee Member, and President of Crown Family Philanthropies.

Mr. Weinheimer, 49,  has been President and CEO of The Cara Program for 18 years. Prior to that, he spent ten years in the financial services industry with GE Capital and UBS. He was a member of the 2013 Emerging Leader Program for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and is a Chicago Community Trust Fellow. In 2012, he was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to the Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise Task Force. Mr. Weinheimer serves on the Advisory Board for the Social Enterprise Initiative at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business; and serves on the boards of directors of the Social Enterprise Alliance, Streetwise, and the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation. He earned an undergraduate degree from Boston College; and M.B.A. from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where in 2011 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service.

“Donors Forum has created an inspiring and bold strategic plan that is exactly what is needed during these times of increased demands and dwindling resources,” said Mr. Weinheimer. “In addition to its traditional membership base, there is an opportunity to actively engage social entrepreneurs, businesses, civic leaders, public officials, and policy experts into the organization’s work to ensure that nonprofit missions are supported and elevated here in Illinois. I am excited to lead this venerable organization into the next phase of its development,” he continued.

Mr. Weinheimer will be formally introduced as the incoming President and CEO at Donors Forum’s 40th Anniversary Luncheon on June 20, an event open to all regardless of membership in Donors Forum. The event will also honor outgoing President and CEO Valerie S. Lies.

~ Marilou Jones, Donors Forum, Director of Strategic Marketing