(Washington DC) – The Board of the Corporation for National and Community Service Tuesday elected Alan D. Solomont, as its chairman. .
The Corporation is the nation’s largest grant maker for volunteering and service, engaging more than four million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, VISTA, NCCC, and Learn and Serve America programs. The agency provides vital support for America’s voluntary and nonprofit sector through grants, volunteers, training, research, and other support.
Solomont, a resident of Weston, Mass., is a longtime veteran of the bipartisan board, first appointed first by President Clinton in 2000 and reappointed by President Bush in 2007. The 15-member board, whose members are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, sets overall policy and direction for the agency and its programs and provides guidance to the agency’s CEO, who has not yet been nominated by the President.
“President Obama has called for a new era of service and responsibility, and Americans are ready to answer that call,” said Solomont. “At this time of economic distress, we need more Americans to reach out and help. President Obama has a bold vision for service, and I am honored to chair this outstanding board as we work to usher in a new era of service in America.”
Solomont’s election as board chair was announced by outgoing chair Stephen Goldsmith at the board’s winter meeting this morning in Washington D.C. Goldsmith, who oversaw an expansion of programs and strengthening of management during his eight-year tenure, will continue to serve on the board through 2010, highlighting a key feature of the volunteer panel’s success – its makeup of leaders from diverse backgrounds who work across party lines to advance the agency and the service movement.
“From 9-11 to Katrina to the everyday disasters of poverty and illiteracy, Americans have always demonstrated an incredible sense of compassion and caring,” said Goldsmith. “With our current economic crisis driving up social needs at the same time nonprofits are facing cutbacks, we need service and volunteering more than ever.”
Goldsmith noted Solomont’s long history in the service sector and leadership on key board initiatives over the past eight years. “Alan is the perfect chair for this moment. He brings the instincts of an entrepreneur, the passion of an organizer, the heart of a philanthropist, and the rolodex of an activist. The board is thrilled to have such a strong leader at this moment of unprecedented need and opportunity for national service.”
In his Inaugural Address, President Obama saluted the American spirit of service and called for a new era of personal responsibility. He has said service will be a central cause of his presidency, and his service and innovation agenda includes expanding AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 slots, engaging more retiring Americans, expanding service-learning in our nation's schools, and seeding innovation and strengthening the capacity of the nonprofit sector. President Obama has not yet nominated a CEO for agency. Bipartisan legislation to expand national service has been introduced in Congress, and the House stimulus bill contains funding to expand AmeriCorps by 16,000 slots.
Throughout his career, Solomont has played a key role in promoting innovation and quality in the delivery of services to an aging population. After the sale of the A•D•S Group, an eldercare company he founded and led for 15 years, he formed SolomontBailis Ventures to launch new and innovative health and eldercare ventures.
Active for many years in the Democratic Party, Mr. Solomont has served in several capacities, including National Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). He has also worked on many state and national political campaigns, including the presidential campaigns of Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama.
In addition to his business and political pursuits, Mr. Solomont is active as a volunteer and contributor to many community institutions and charitable organizations. He is Vice Chairman of Boston Medical Center where he co-chaired the capital campaign to build a new cancer treatment center, and he is the immediate past Chairman of the Board of Hebrew Senior Life. He is also a past Chairman of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and he is currently a member of the Boards of the JFK Presidential Library, Cradles to Crayons, New Israel Fund, and the Jewish Funds for Justice. Solomont is a Trustee of his alma mater, Tufts University, where he serves on the Board of the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and co-chairs the Tufts Capital Campaign, “Beyond Boundaries.” Solomont teaches a political science course at Tufts on the American Presidency.
In other action, the Board formally swore in board member Hyepin Im, for a term lasting through October 2013. Im is currently the Founder and President of Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD), a faith-based non-profit whose mission is to build the capacity of churches to increase the scale of their economic development work. Under Im's leadership, KCCD sponsors annual national conferences, administers a $5 million Youth Workforce Development grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, and sponsors initiatives for small business development, marriage and family strengthening, healthcare, homeownership, and research in the Korean community. More information on Im’s appointment is at [link to separate press release on Im’s swearing in].
The board said farewell to departing vice-chairman Vince Juaristi, who has served on the Board since May of 2006. Juaristi, who is Executive Vice President at Visionary Integration Professionals (VIP), a global information technology solutions provider, provided outstanding leadership to the Corporation in a number of areas, particularly in implementing improvements in the agency’s technology systems and supporting its work in disaster preparedness and response.
The board also heard testimony from national service leaders about the impact of the economic downturn on national service grantees and the communities and individuals they serve. Representatives from the Association of State Service Commissions, Voices for National Service, and the State Education Agency K-12 Service Learning Network (SEANet) described how the economic downturn has increased the demand for social services at the same time that nonprofits and agencies that can help meet the increasing demand are facing cutbacks in funding. The board passed a resolution acknowledging this challenge and directing the CEO to continue assessing the impact of the downturn on grantees, to act expeditiously on requests for administrative relief, to explore creative ways to help program meet community needs, and to report back to the board about the Corporation’s action in light of the economic downturn.