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News & Event

Breaking News: AAACF CEO Neel Hajra Named CEO of MI Health Endowment Fund

AAACF’s Neel Hajra, who has been part of the Community Foundation for 11 years—the last 6 years as its chief executive officer (CEO), has just been announced by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund (the Health Fund) as its new CEO. Neel was actively recruited for this rare opportunity to remain in his hometown of Ann Arbor while leading a large private foundation with a statewide service area.

This impending leadership transition comes as AAACF has completed a successful five-year strategic plan that resulted in its assets more than doubling to $200 million; launching of a local impact investing program and a model scholarship program; and the distribution of record grant support, including $2M for COVID relief in 2020.

The AAACF Board of Trustees and staff also adopted Core Values with community input in Fall 2020 that will continue to guide its strategic direction: Prioritizing Community, Pursuing Equity, Earning Trust, Leveraging Knowledge, and Enhancing Collaboration.

Board Chair Betsy Petoskey, daughter of former AAACF Trustee Chris McKenney, exemplifies the rich history of dedicated community leaders that have guided the community foundation for nearly 60 years and will continue to ensure its impact on Washtenaw County. “While we are obviously sad to see Neel leave the community foundation, we are grateful for the amazing growth and evolution under his leadership and we are fully confident that our momentum will only continue to build as we strive to serve our community in significant ways.”

Trustees will launch a national search for a new CEO this fall with community representation on the search committee. The Board is committed not only to sustaining but to building upon the momentous growth and impact of AAACF during its last several years.

In partnership with the Board, the staff leadership of Shelley Strickland (VP for Philanthropy), Jillian Rosen (VP for Community Investment) and Jamie Hunter (CFO) will manage through the transition, with Dr. Strickland serving as Interim CEO until an external candidate is hired.

More details on the exact timing of the transition and opportunities to thank Neel for his contributions to his hometown community will be forthcoming and will be shared in various communications and posted on our website:

To reiterate, Neel was not looking for a new role and is only leaving AAACF because of this rare opportunity to lead a private foundation that is also State-created while remaining in his hometown. Unlike community foundations, private foundations do not raise funds or seek financial support from the public. The Health Fund has been a partner with AAACF on several grantmaking and policy efforts, and we expect this collaboration to only strengthen.

In addition to professional collaborations, Neel remains committed to personal support and engagement with AAACF. He established an unrestricted endowed fund in 2013, the Hajra Family Fund.

For more information on Neel’s hire, see the Health Fund website:

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