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MIDDLEBURY, VT—Lyman Orton, Orton Family Foundation founder and Board Chair, announced today that Bill Roper, President & CEO of the Foundation, has decided to leave after 14 years with the organization. Roper joined the Foundation in 1998 and was made President & CEO in 2006.
“Bill has been instrumental in bringing the Foundation to this point with many successful programs, and today we are engaged with five demonstration communities helping them discover their heart and soul, those numerous emotional attachments residents hold for their towns that make them want to live there,” Orton said.
During Roper’s tenure the Foundation launched the Heart & Soul initiative, which seeks to revolutionize how residents participate and plan their communities’ futures by learning what they most cherish about the places they call home. A unique feature of the approach is its commitment to gaining firsthand experience working with residents and leaders in a limited number of small cities and towns. The current round of five communities follows successful completion of the Foundation’s first round of Heart & Soul projects in 2010 and sets the Foundation on a course to accelerate its impact. “There are healthy times in the evolution of every organization for leadership to change, and this is one of them,” Roper said. “The Foundation is on very solid footing.”
“It has been inspiring to work with so many thoughtful people who devote countless hours making their communities special places to live and work. They really make the difference as they seek to understand the heart and soul of their communities and use that discovery as a basis for decisions about the future of their towns,” Roper added.
While working in the trenches, the Foundation, under Roper’s leadership, has also sought to influence the field nationally. Those efforts include two national CommunityMatters conferences, the formation of the Intermountain West Funder Network and a growing, national CommunityMatters network. Other recent accomplishments include publication of respected whitepapers, including Re-Weaving Community, Creating the Future and, most recently, Stewarding the Future of Our Communities.
Founded in 1995 by Lyman Orton, the Foundation focuses its efforts on helping residents of small cities and towns discover their Heart & Soul and use it to build vibrant social and economic futures for them. As residents come to recognize the unique historic and cultural attributes of their towns, they apply them to make their towns even better places to live. “People want to move to and invest in special places and that’s what drives economic development,” Orton said.
Orton continued, “Bill has built a remarkable set of programs and partnerships, and the Foundation’s terrific staff will continue to run our Heart & Soul projects, so, sad as I am that he is leaving, our work to revolutionize the way communities build their futures will forge ahead. We are now beginning a search for his successor.”
Director of Projects Betsy Rosenbluth is serving as Acting Executive Director during the search. She has been with the Foundation for 5 years, and helped develop and implement the H&S Initiative.
For More Information:
John Barstow, Director of Communications
The Orton Family Foundation
PO Box 111 (152 Maple St., Suite 101)
Middlebury, VT 05753