By: T. Randall Grove

Every day we confront choices. Yet, some days, the decisions are so significant that they truly shape the future. Today is one of those days because the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington has selected its next president.

On behalf of a selection committee made up of board and community members, I am pleased to announce that Matt Morton will become President of the Community Foundation and carry on the legacy of generosity, stewardship and engagement that has been built here. On April 18, Matt will pick up the baton that Jennifer Rhoads has carried courageously through a decade of tremendous growth, transformation and impact.

As you would expect, we approached this decision with great consideration. Working closely with Murphy, Symonds & Stowell, we clarified our hopes for the incoming President and  needs of our incredible staff, partners and communities. Then, we launched an extensive search. The position attracted a cross section of more than 40 outstanding nonprofit and philanthropic leaders from across the region and nation.

Matt stood out because of his unique experiences and roles across the nonprofit, philanthropic and public policy sectors. This, coupled with his record of building trusted relationships and deep roots in Washington state, made him a unanimous choice.

Matt is currently the Equitable Education Portfolio Director at Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon’s second-largest philanthropic foundation. Here, he oversees the state’s largest private grantmaking strategy focused on K-12 public education, which aims to improve student outcomes for every child. Since joining Meyer in 2016, Oregon’s overall graduation rate has increased by 7.8 percent, with double-digit growth for Black and Latinx students. While this achievement is shared across thousands of programs, initiatives and entities, Matt’s philanthropic leadership, development of cross-system collaborations, and contributions to new policies have certainly added to the statewide success.

His time at Meyer Memorial Trust has furthered his lifelong commitment to education and added to what was already a large body of work within the nonprofit and public policy spheres. Previous to his current work, Matt held roles as both the executive director of the Native American Youth and Family Center and the deputy director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.

His community service efforts include the distinction of becoming the first Native American elected to the Board of Education for Portland Public Schools. In that same year, he was appointed by then Governor John Kitzhaber to serve as the inaugural chair for the Youth Development Council. On every leg of his journey, Matt has championed equitable approaches and community-driven solutions.

The search committee did not just select Matt for what he has done; we saw the promise of what he can do for our region. This came through clearly when he responded to a question about what values-based leadership meant to him personally:

“…a community foundation leader that focuses on values-based decision making holds the important position of being a bridge between people, communities and ideas. In today’s polarizing climate, values offer us the opportunity to counter divisive ideologies and rhetoric, instead centering our focus on where our community ideals align.”

We know this is a bold vision, and we are confident that Matt is the leader to move our region further along in becoming a place where everyone can find a sense of belonging and possibility, regardless of race or class.

Throughout his career, Matt has supported communities in developing innovative solutions, programs and initiatives that address persistent barriers to community prosperity. He has also guided large teams and fundraising efforts with much success. Matt is excited to bring these talents to southwest Washington, and is in the process of moving to the region with his wife, Courtaney, and son, Marcus.

“I am incredibly eager to join the Community Foundation and direct my leadership toward improving lives and communities across southwest Washington. Of equal importance is making this place my home, which means connecting with the donors, nonprofits, neighbors and professionals who are contributing to a more thriving region every day.”

We look forward to supporting our soon to be President Matt Morton as he applies his fresh perspective and collaborative spirit to the Community Foundation’s mission, and we hope you are looking forward to welcoming him with open arms.

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