Hugh Ralston, president and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation, will step down later this year in a move that will likely cause ripples across the philanthropic leadership in the region.
Ralston, who has led VCCF for 11 years, said he wanted to announce his resignation now to allow the organization’s board an opportunity to find a successor. He will remain in his post until Sept. 30.
The foundation’s assets have grown four-fold under his leadership and it has launched a number of new initiatives, many of them aimed at outreach to Ventura County’s Latino community. With CSU Channel Islands President Richard Rush, California Lutheran University President Chris Kimball and others, he’s greatly expanded the reach and influence of Ventura County’s nonprofit sector.
“I leave VCCF on good terms, in good shape and in good hands,” Ralston said in a statement. “I am enormously proud of what my staff colleagues have accomplished over the past 11 years, and I salute their dedication, hard work and flexibility as the community foundation transformed its work, its message and its outreach, building on the strong foundation I inherited from my predecessor.”
Ralston said he wanted to “take on new challenges in the world of philanthropy and nonprofits.” He’s been instrumental in creating a Center for Nonprofit Leadership and in creating the VCCF Nonprofit Center in Camarillo, a 53,000-square-foot building owned by the foundation that now houses 15 county nonprofits including United Way of Ventura County and Interface Children & Family Services.
Ralston’s term at the helm of the foundation was a period of “transformative growth,” VCCF Chair Gary Erickson said in the statement.
Among the milestones in Ralston’s tenure at VCCF are a $100 million increase in assets and 10- growth in scholarship funds, despite the economic downturn of 2009.When he succeeded Kate McLean as the third president in VCCF history, Ralston inherited a modest endowment of $32 million. During the past 11 years, those assets have grown to roughly $135 million and scholarship funds have increased 10-fold.
Also during Ralston’s tenure, VCCF received first-time grants from the Amgen Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well as expanded program support from the California Endowment, the Weingart Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation.
He worked closely with United Way and others on Ventura County Together, a multi-dimensional response to the devastating impact of the Great Recession on working class and poor families in Ventura County.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The headline for this article originally said Ralston was retiring. He is stepping down from VCCF but will be pursuing new opportunities in the nonprofit and philanthropy sector.]