From top left, clockwise: Phil Johnson, Rosemarie Torres Johnson, Ty Bellitti, Geoff O’Connell, Adrienne Wallace, Todd Sperry.
The Cambridge Community Foundation’s Board of Directors named Phil Johnson, founder and CEO of award-winning PJA Advertising + Marketing as its new chair, experienced board leader Rosemarie Torres Johnson as vice-chair, and appointed Tyrone (Ty) Bellitti, Cambridge entrepreneur and vice president of My Brother’s Keeper Cambridge Task Force, and Todd Sperry, chief marketing officer, Museum of Science, to the CCF Board, effective July 1, 2021.
With these leadership changes, and the addition of two new staff—Geoff O’Connell as chief financial officer and Adrienne Wallace as director of grantmaking and programs—the Foundation is bolstering its capacity as it enters its next phase.
Phil Johnson assumes his new role on July 1, when Rick Harriman, the current chair, steps down after 11 years of service. Harriman guided the Foundation’s evolution from an informal giving circle to a civic leader and philanthropic partner, recognizing Cambridge was at an inflection point with the city’s growth in the innovation sector and its impacts on vulnerable residents.
“Rick has left an incredible legacy and as we enter our next phase to address the pressing social issues of a growing innovation city, I can’t think of a better person to build upon that legacy than Phil Johnson,” said Geeta Pradhan, president of the Cambridge Community Foundation. “Phil brings business acumen, creativity and innovative thinking, and a passion for philanthropy and Cambridge. Joining Phil are Vice-Chair Rosemarie Torres Johnson, a community advocate and inspiring philanthropist, and new board members Ty Bellitti and Todd Sperry, who will enhance our capacity to build on partnerships and facilitate innovative social solutions that our city needs.”
Phil Johnson was unanimously voted chair of the Board of Directors at the Cambridge Community Foundation after a decade of service on the board. He is the founder and CEO of the award-winning PJA Advertising + Marketing, a national agency focused on technology, healthcare, and other industries dealing with complex challenges. The firm was recognized seven times as a top B2B Agency of the Year. Johnson himself was named one of the nation’s top 50 marketers several years running. His firm also works pro bono with numerous local nonprofits and has supported Cambridge’s CASPAR, Spare Change News, and Solutions at Work. He serves on the Board of the Boston Museum of Science.
During his tenure on the Foundation’s Board, Johnson has led the communications and civic leadership committee and guided the increased understanding and visibility of the Foundation. He also led the creation of the Imagined in Cambridge Social Innovation Award to find innovative, grassroots solutions to the city’s most intractable problems.
“I believe we can become a national leader in proving the value and power of a community foundation,” said Phil Johnson. “On a global scale, the multitude of problems, crises, disasters, can be overwhelming. But we do have the capacity to solve local problems. That’s the superpower of a community foundation. By being hyper focused and understanding our community, we can tackle big problems like poverty, social equity, and racial justice.”
“Phil has shown a strong passion for the community through his tenure at the Foundation and his own philanthropy in Cambridge. The Foundation’s Imagined in Cambridge Social Innovation Award reflects his deep respect for solutions coming from those most impacted and he’s helped the Foundation give voice to the great social innovation work of many in the city,” said Harriman. “He’s also a proven partner with Geeta and they, along with our exceptional board and staff, will strengthen the Foundation’s ability to meet its responsibility to broadly serve the community and play a leadership role with high impact interventions.”
2020 highlighted the Foundation’s capacity to work with all sectors of the community in addressing community needs, supporting nonprofit partners while responding to the pandemic and the impacts of systemic racism. Since March 2020, the Foundation and its partners raised and awarded $4.73 million to support local nonprofits, arts organizations, social entrepreneurs, and for the first time the Foundation distributed 1,475 direct cash grants to help individuals meet basic needs during the pandemic. In partnership with the City of Cambridge, it launched a new Cultural Capital Fund, Cambridge’s first, central channel for donors and partners to pool their resources to provide immediate support to arts organizations at risk due to the pandemic and to protect the viability of the arts ecosystem for years to come. This spring, the Foundation became a founding partner of Cambridge RISE (Recurring Income for Success and Empowerment), a new Guaranteed Income Pilot Initiative, launched by Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, and supported by MIT, Harvard, and many other supporters to offer $500 no-strings-attached monthly payments to 120 eligible single caretaker households over an 18-month period. This spring the Foundation launched a new research report, Equity & Innovation Cities: The Case of Cambridge, presenting data that confirms Cambridge as an innovation powerhouse and providing tangible evidence of growing disparities among residents. The Foundation is convening conversations with partners to identify collective solutions to reverse troubling trends.
“As we seek equity in Cambridge, we need a Board of Directors with a powerful civic voice. Ty Bellitti brings innovative thinking and bridge building through his work with MBK and an unapologetic passion for his community. As the CMO of the Museum of Science, Todd is deeply connected to the community and to helping people see themselves in a future defined by science and technology. These are talented people that can help us build bridges to prosperity for all residents,” said Rosemarie Torres Johnson, current chair of governance and vice-chair of the Foundation’s Board.
Through nonprofit partners, philanthropic partnerships, and civic leadership, the Cambridge Community Foundation supports three visionary goals in the city: social equity, shared prosperity, and cultural richness. The board serves as the ultimate authority for the work of the 105-year-old community foundation, the only foundation with all of Cambridge in its purview. This includes overseeing the Foundation’s community impact and civic leadership agenda, approving biannual grantmaking to local nonprofits organizations, responding to urgent needs in the community, and building the Cambridge Endowment for the long-term wellbeing of the community.
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