He succeeds Harriet M. Ivey, 64, who retires in January after leading the foundation from its creation 15 years ago.
The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable 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.
Gene will divide his time equally between the Phoenix and Indianapolis offices of the 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. We believe he will help the Trust put support where it is most needed in the two communities.
He became focused on philanthropy 20 years ago, after serving as a loaned executive for the Valley of the Sun United Way in Phoenix. It opened his eyes to a side of the community in which he had very little knowledge. The defining moment, he said, was a tour of a local domestic violence shelter. Finding out that half the clients were children had a profound impact on him.
Under Gene'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. 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. He has directed major grant funding, spearheaded community initiatives and awareness campaigns, led nonprofit organizations and headed their fundraising efforts.
We conducted a national search for the new CEO and met many outstanding candidates. It was Gene's background of results-oriented philanthropic giving that really won us over.
Gene said he plans build on the work accomplished under Harriet Ivey's leadership, especially in the areas of animal welfare, foster care and education. He will lead the Trust in becoming more strategic in grantmaking and will work with community partners to better understand how to measure success. The Trust's ultimate goal is to make the greatest impact on our communities.
Gene currently serves as chair of the Arizona Grantmakers Forum and is on the boards of the Arizona Community Foundation and the Banner Alzheimer's Institute Foundation. In all, he has served 20 nonprofit boards. He has received numerous awards for his philanthropic efforts.
This is a unique position because of the need for the CEO to live and work in both Phoenix and 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.
Gene is acquainted with Indianapolis because of The 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.
A resident of Phoenix for more than 40 years, Gene graduated from Arizona State University in 1984, 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 University. He started work at the Phoenix newspaper company at 18 to pay for college.
Gene has said his professional career was developed and nurtured under the Pulliam legacy, embodied by The 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 chairman of the board of Central Newspapers, Inc., which owned the Phoenix and Indianapolis newspapers before Gannett.
He has worked closely with the staff of the Trust since its inception.
Gene and his wife, Debbie, have three daughters: Danielle, 28; Lauren, 25; and Brooke, 20.