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CRCF board announces retirement of Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit

Thu, Jan 5th 2023 03:00 pm

The Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation (CRCF) board of directors has announced that long-time Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit plans to retire September 1.

Buchheit was the Foundation’s first full-time executive director when she began in December 2010, according to CRCF board president Lucy Benson.

“On behalf of the entire CRCF board of directors, I want to sincerely thank Karen for her many years of dedication and leadership to the Foundation,” said CRCF Immediate Past President Skip Wilday. “Karen has taken CRCF from an emerging community foundation with a vision of being the community’s leader in philanthropy to a foundation today that is very much living out that vision and mission. Under her leadership, CRCF’s impact in the community has greatly increased, and she has laid a blueprint for the next leader to take the Foundation to the next level and into its next chapter.”

For more than 12 years, Buchheit has encouraged private giving to "Grow Good" in the community and build endowed funds to grow and sustain annual grant and scholarship awards. The Foundation has grown from about $9 million in assets that year to more than $27 million in 2022.

Buchheit has directed grantmaking to meet the community's changing and future needs, with annual grant distributions growing from an average of $400,000 a year to $1.4 million a year, including a record year of over $2 million in 2022.

Since joining CRCF, Buchheit also has expanded the Foundation's role in the region to assist nonprofit organizations through not only grantmaking, but also with capacity building services and programming, with events such as the Nonprofit Networking Day, which was replaced during the pandemic with the Nonprofit Link and Learn webinar series.

Buchheit also led the effort to bring a giving day to the Cattaraugus County area. In just the last four years, the CRCF-led giving day, Cattaraugus Gives, has raised over $1 million for nonprofits in Cattaraugus County.

During the COVID pandemic, she helped lead efforts to bring in and award more than $238,000 in support to nonprofits on the frontline of serving the region’s residents through food pantries, social service agencies and other organizations. Additionally, Buchheit led efforts to organize nonprofit leaders in Cattaraugus County to direct additional funding to organizations leading COVID relief efforts in the region.

The board will be establishing a search committee to oversee the process of hiring Buchheit’s successor. The plan is to have a new executive director on board before Buchheit leaves the office to facilitate a smooth transition in leadership.

Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the Foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).