In the six years that the Watertown Community Foundation has been lead by Michael Schade, the non-profit has more than doubled the amount of grant money awarded and expanded the areas in which the money impacts. This week Schade announced he will be stepping down as executive director in June.
“It has been an honor and privilege to partner with WCF’s dedicated volunteer Board of Directors on many endeavors to enhance the quality of life in Watertown,” Schade said. “Now, I am looking for the right opportunity to bring my management skills and creative experience to another organization or business in order to improve their results.”
Before becoming Executive Director, Schade spent 25 years designing and managing computer-based training programs and related projects for companies such as Xerox, General Motors, IBM, State Farm Insurance and Otis Elevator-Europe. He was also a public school teacher in Hawaii and Massachusetts. Two areas where Schade had no experience in non-profits or fund-raising.
“When I started, one of the board members, Susan Musinsky, said the way she sees fund-raising – and the way I see fund-raising – is you build relationships with people, you do good work and it takes care of itself,” Schade said.
The WCF gets money from individual donors, local foundations and businesses, such as the Bilezikian Family, Tufts Health Plan Foundation, Sasaki Associates, Watertown Savings Bank and athenahealth.
The Foundation, a charitable non-profit, was established in 2003 with an initial endowment from proceeds of the Watertown Arsenal Development Corporation’s reclaiming of the US Army’s Arsenal complex. Its mission is to encourage a vibrant, close knit community in Watertown, and funds grants to Watertown organizations in support of education, health, arts and the environment.
The foundation has grown steadily under Shade’s leadership, said David Siegel, co-President of the WCF Board.
“Mike has been a highly effective public face for the Foundation,” Siegel said. “During his tenure we’ve more than doubled our annual grants, from under $50,000 to over $100,000, and increased our annual fundraising over 100 percent.” “It’s been a great opportunity to get to know many wonderful Watertown residents,”
Among the work Schade is most proud of is handing out thousands of dollars in checks to Watertown’s terrific nonprofits every year for their important work. Siegel said the scope of the grants has expanded under Schade, as well.
“His accomplishments, supporting expansion of our grant-making programs from four to seven, building Watertown Helps Out – WCF’s annual town-wide volunteer day (now in its third year), and leading our role in the Riverfront restoration, are especially impressive given that this is a part-time position,” observed Siegel.
What’s next for Schade remains up in the air.
“It’s tricky. I want it to be part time. Part time with some flexibility,” Schade said. “I really like working with a team, managing projects. It has been a great experience, this job. Meeting a lot of people – interesting people – in this community.”
A Search Committee has been established to seek a replacement Executive Director, and information is available on the WCF’s website, www.watertownfoundation.org.