Arizona news executive Gene D’Adamo to head Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust

Arizona news executive Gene D’Adamo will join the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust as president and CEO in January.

D’Adamo, 52, is currently the vice president of community relations for Republic Media, which includes The Arizona Republic, 12 News and azcentral.com. In that role, he has become a leader in Arizona philanthropy.

He succeeds Harriet M. Ivey, 64, who retires in January after leading the Trust from its creation 15 years ago.

The Pulliam Trust provides millions of dollars in grants each year to nonprofit organizations in Phoenix and Indianapolis, cities where the Pulliam family once owned and operated major daily newspapers now owned by the Gannett Company.

D’Adamo will divide his time equally between the Phoenix and Indianapolis offices of the Trust.

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Gene to this leadership position,” said Carol Peden Schilling, chair of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. “Gene brings us energy and vision seasoned by his many years of community leadership. He lives and breathes strategic philanthropy and has been the Trust’s friend for 15 years. He will help the Trust put support where it is most needed in the two communities.”

D’Adamo became focused on philanthropy 20 years ago, after serving as a loaned executive for the Valley of the Sun United Way. “It opened my eyes to a side of the community in which I had very little knowledge,” he said. “The defining moment was a tour of a local domestic violence shelter. Finding out that half the clients were children had a profound impact on me,” he said.

Under D’Adamo’s direction, The Arizona Republic and 12 News have distributed $60 million over the past 20 years, much of it through the “Season for Sharing” holiday matched-giving program. (The Trust is a matching partner of the program.)

But his work in philanthropy goes beyond traditional grantmaking. “Gene is a recognized leader who collaborates, leverages talents and funding, brings interested individuals, community leaders and groups together for the greater good,” said Trustee Lisa Shover Kackley. He has helped increase corporate and community support for numerous issues including domestic violence, child abuse and drowning prevention, as well as the need for more education about Alzheimer’s disease.

“Gene understands philanthropy at every level,” Shover Kackley said. “He has directed major grant funding, spearheaded community initiatives and awareness campaigns, led nonprofit organizations and headed their fundraising efforts.”

Kent E. Agness, one of the three trustees of the Pulliam Trust and the board member who led the national search, said, “it was D’Adamo’s background of results-oriented philanthropic giving that really won us over.”

D’Adamo said he plans to build on the work accomplished under Harriet Ivey’s leadership, especially in the areas of animal welfare, foster care and education.

“The Trust will become more strategic in its grantmaking and work with community partners to better understand how to measure success. The ultimate goal is to make the greatest impact in our communities,” D’Adamo said.

D’Adamo currently serves as chair of the Arizona Grantmakers Forum and is on the board of the Arizona Community Foundation and the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute Foundation. In all, he has served on 20 nonprofit boards. He has received numerous awards for his philanthropic efforts, most recently the prestigious Jerry J. Wisotsky Torch of Liberty Award, presented by the Anti Defamation League.

“This is a unique position because of the need for the CEO to live and work in both Phoenix and Indianapolis,” said Agness, who lives in Indianapolis. “Gene’s deep roots in Phoenix are well known, and we are sure that he will quickly become a valued member of the Indianapolis community, as well.”

D’Adamo said he is acquainted with Indianapolis because of The Arizona Republic’s connection to The Indianapolis Star. In 1993, he helped establish the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation’s Community Grants program with The Indianapolis Star. He has continued his relationship with Indianapolis and recently worked with The Star’s leadership to develop a formal community relations and outreach strategy.

“My wife Debbie and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Indianapolis community, with its rich history of philanthropy and caring individuals,” D’Adamo said. “We’re excited to learn about the city and its people, and to experience the world-class arts and cultural institutions––not to mention its world-famous sports events.”

A resident of Phoenix for more than 40 years, D’Adamo graduated from Arizona State University in1984, earning a degree in communications. He also completed certification programs from the Kellogg School of Graduate Management at Northwestern University and the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College. He started work at the Phoenix newspaper company at 18 to help pay for college. D’Adamo said his professional career was developed and nurtured under the Pulliam legacy, embodied by The Arizona Republic’s longtime public affairs director Bill Shover and the late Frank Russell, who helped launch the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and served as its founding chairman. Russell was the former president and chair of the board of Central Newspapers, Inc., which owned the Phoenix and Indianapolis newspapers before Gannett.

D’Adamo has worked closely with the staff of the Trust since its inception.

D’Adamo and his wife, Debbie, have three daughters: Danielle, 28; Lauren, 25; and Brooke, 20.

Trust background

The Trust manages a charitable endowment of approximately $375 million. Since 1998, it has awarded more than $223 million in grants to 891 nonprofit organizations. A three-member board of Trustees governs the Trust. It has a staff of 18 and maintains offices in Phoenix and Indianapolis.

Its three giving areas: Helping People in Need, Protecting Animals and Nature, and Enriching Community Life were inspired by the values and interests of Nina Mason Pulliam, who died in 1997. She left the majority of her assets to establish the Trust. Mrs. Pulliam worked alongside her husband, Eugene C. Pulliam, to establish Central Newspapers, Inc., which owned and operated The Arizona Republic and The Indianapolis Star, until the sale of the newspapers to Gannett in 2000.

In 2001, the Trust established the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars program, which has brought the dream of a college education to hundreds of nontraditional college students in Phoenix and Indianapolis. The program, now in its 13th year, helps young adults with children, foster care youth, and people with physical disabilities enter and succeed in college.

Earlier this year, the Trust announced major multiyear animal welfare initiatives in both Phoenix and Indianapolis and an important new effort in Arizona to help young adults “aging out” of foster care. Both are examples of how the Trust is intensifying its partnerships with clusters of nonprofits to create significant change.

More information about the Trust at www.ninapulliamtrust.org.