San Antonio Area Foundation Welcomes New CEO

SAN ANTONIO (March 19, 2019) – The San Antonio Area Foundation – San Antonio’s community foundation –announced the appointment of Marjie French as its new chief executive officer. French’s selection comes after an extensive and rigorous search process following the retirement of former CEO Dennis Noll. Candidates included top local, regional and national professionals with strong leadership reputations and the capacity to serve as transformational catalysts in taking the Area Foundation to the next level.

“We are thrilled to have found the best candidate to lead the Area Foundation into its next chapter,” said Area Foundation Board Chairman Theo Guidry III. “Marjie French has a track record of collaborative, mission-driven leadership combined with a passion for making a positive difference that makes her uniquely qualified for this role.”

A seasoned leader with nearly 30 years’ experience in development, French joins the Area Foundation after spending more than a decade at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) as the Vice President for External Relations and Chief Development Officer. In her role at UTSA, French built the university’s comprehensive philanthropic program, propelling it toward recognition as a premier research institution.

“I’m honored and grateful to the board of directors and the search committee for the opportunity to lead this exceptional organization and the dedicated and talented professionals that work here,” said French. “The San Antonio Area Foundation’s impact on our community is immeasurable and I look forward to working with the donors, organizations and community leaders who make that possible.”

In 2009, French launched UTSA’s first capital campaign, We Are UTSA – A Top-Tier Campaign which was supported by nearly 33,000 donors raising $220 million and securing 143 total endowments and 41 faculty endowments, $62.6 million in scholarships and fellowships, $19 million in research centers, $43.8 million in faculty support, $50 million in student life and $19 million in state matching funds. Additionally, UTSA received its largest single private gift, $22 million from the estate of Mary E. McKinney. More recently, French has led efforts to expand philanthropic support for UTSA students and researchers and to facilitate the expansion of the UTSA Downtown Campus as part of San Antonio’s high-tech corridor. In 2018, she guided UTSA in securing $37 million in gifts and pledges, setting a new annual fundraising record for the university.

“Marjie is an exemplary leader who has energized the San Antonio philanthropic community in support of UTSA,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “For more than a decade she has built a record-breaking program that has created a foundation of philanthropic stability and growth for the university. Marjie is committed to serving the San Antonio community and I look forward to working with her at the Area Foundation.”

French’s resume includes extensive experience in overseeing fundraising, external relations, alumni relations, operations management, and communications and marketing at large public research institutions. In addition to UTSA, her career includes executive leadership roles in development at the University of Houston, The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas at Dallas.

During her three years at the University of Texas at Dallas French increased total giving by 50 percent and alumni participation at 70 percent. While at UT-Austin French managed the Dallas major gift program for the $1.6 billion “We’re Texas” campaign and led fundraising that resulted in the creation of the Real Estate Finance Center at UT-Austin’s McCombs School of Business. At the University of Houston, she supervised development programs for both the Honors College and the College of Architecture during the university’s $350 million creative partnership campaign.

French’s selection was made by nine-member search committee established by the Board of Directors, with the help of executive search firm Russell Reynolds. Search committee members represented a diversity of perspectives, were experienced in hiring for key leadership positions and had a thorough knowledge of the Area Foundation’s mission. The search committee was chaired by board member Darryl Byrd, founder and managing director of ULTRAte, LLC – a community development and management consulting firm based in San Antonio. The committee also included board chair Theo Guidry, immediate past board chair John Hayes and board members Michelle Scarver, General James “Tom” Hill (ret), Janie Barrera, Alex Perez and Laura Ehrenberg-Chesler.

Area Foundation President and Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Brune has led the organization throughout the search process, overseeing all day-to-day operations. Brune joined the Area Foundation in February 2017 and possesses 24 years of experience in social service delivery and strategic planning from Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Goodwill Industries and the United Way.

“Becca has done a fantastic job of guiding the organization through this leadership transition,” said Guidry. “We are thrilled to see what Marjie and Becca will accomplish together to help the foundation grow, diversify and do even more to serve our community.”

The Area Foundation manages more than $900 million in assets and has distributed more than $400 million in grants and scholarships to educate youth, preserve the environment, protect animals, fund research and provide services that enhance the quality of life for people living in and around San Antonio since 1964.

The Area Foundation strives to make San Antonio a better place to live by connecting donors to causes they are passionate about; maintaining, investing and distributing funds from permanent charitable endowments; and creating and leading initiatives for the benefit of the community.


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The San Antonio Area Foundation helps donors achieve their charitable goals for the greater benefit of the community.

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