The Luzerne Foundation’s Chief Executive Announces Retirement Plans

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The Luzerne Foundation Board of Directors announced that Charles M. Barber, president of one of the region’s largest grantmakers, will retire at the end of June 2021. “When Charles was hired in 2000, The Luzerne Foundation had a $2 million in assets and 24 named endowments,” said Board Chair John Dowd. “Today, The Luzerne Foundation manages over 350 funds with a collective market value of over $50 million. Charles has done an excellent job, and filling his shoes will be difficult.”

During his tenure, Barber worked collaboratively with local donors to raise millions of dollars for a wide variety of charitable causes. He built and supervised a grant process to distribute over $170 million to a wide variety of charities. Barber also helped establish community foundations serving Greater Pike and Carbon counties. He established the Disaster Recovery Coalition of Luzerne County following the floods of September 2011. Today, this collaboration among dozens of charitable organizations makes recovery far more efficient and effective. The Coalition has not only rebuilt homes but has also rebuilt lives.

Barber also helped several local charities get established, among them Volunteers in Medicine, The Hazleton Integration Project, the Irem Temple Preservation Project, and Hunts for Healing/Patriot’s Cove. Under his leadership, The Luzerne Foundation created a Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), which taps high school students from across Luzerne County to gather monthly and learn about responsible philanthropy. As future stewards of philanthropy, “YACsters” learn how to evaluate community needs and identify and appraise nonprofit organizations that address those needs. The high schoolers also learn how to raise their own pool of funds to issue grants to deserving charities. Now in its eighth year, YAC has successfully awarded over $120,000 to various charities across Luzerne County. Barber helped grow and develop the Millennium Circle Fund, which has awarded $414,000 in grants to deserving Luzerne County nonprofits since 2001. To promote inclusion and diversity, Barber developed the Rainbow Alliance and Diversity Partnership Funds. He instituted the Foundation’s first-ever ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investment strategy, an umbrella term for investments that seek positive returns and long-term impact on socially conscience issues.

Barber has been at the forefront of a variety of county-wide endeavors; most recently, he collaborated with nonprofit leaders from across the county as the Chairman of the Nonprofit Committee of the Luzerne County COVID-19 Emergency Relief Committee. The Committee garnered hundreds of thousands dollars for COVID Relief and for charities serving on the front lines. Barber also coordinated the regional evaluation of services provided to individuals with behavioral health issues. This led to the development of the Behavioral Health Initiative (BHI) at the Geisinger Commonwealth Medical College which includes a psychiatric residency program and psychology internships. In addition, Barber served on countless nonprofit boards and committees.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to work with talented staff, generous donors, committed nonprofits, and first-class boards to help the community I love,” said Barber. “I have never been more optimistic about our community’s future, and I know future leadership will continue to build upon our accomplishments.”

“Charles will remain available to assist The Luzerne Foundation on an as-needed basis,” said Dowd. Barber looks forward to serving community foundations and nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth and the nation on a limited consulting basis.

An Executive Search Committee will commence a review of external applicants for the President/CEO position. COO Diane Dutko will assist with the transition.

Prior to joining The Foundation, Barber spent over 20 years in the financial services industry, working in the trust division of Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh and First Union National Bank in Florida before returning to his roots in Pennsylvania. He earned a B.S. in physics from George Washington University and an MBA from the Katz School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.

In 2018, Barber was instrumental in overseeing the renovation of a 100-year-old building at 34 South River St in Wilkes-Barre, and it became The Foundation’s permanent new home.

Established in 1994, The Luzerne Foundation works to enhance the lives and well-being of Luzerne County residents by evaluating and addressing community needs through strategic grantmaking, promoting responsible philanthropy, and connecting donors to causes that matter to them. A force for philanthropy in our community, The Foundation is uniquely positioned to do good today and tomorrow. We are…Here for Good TM.

The Luzerne Foundation
The Luzerne Foundation
The Luzerne Foundation helps people create funds to do good things today and lasting good for tomorrow. Here for Good!™

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