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Brooklyn Community Foundation Chair Alan Fishman steps down after two decades of service

Board of Directors welcomes new Co-Chairs Nicole Gueron and Harsha Marti

September 23, 2020 Editorial Staff
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Brooklyn Community Foundation has announced that Chair Alan H. Fishman will step down from his position on Friday. The Board of Directors will officially welcome Nicole Gueron and Harsha Marti as its new co-chairs, and Fishman will continue to serve the Foundation as chairman emeritus.

This transition concludes 19 years of Fishman’s service as chair and directly follows an unprecedented period which saw the single largest community-funded grantmaking effort in the Foundation’s 11-year history in response to COVID-19.

Fishman’s tenure was initially planned to conclude in June, but as the vastly disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 surged across Brooklyn, the Foundation’s Board and staff focused solely on the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund.

Members of the Brooklyn Community Foundation Board of Directors: From left, Michael Gillespie, Sarah Williams, Carley Roney, Richard Moore, Rev. Emma Jordan Simpson (board member emeritus), Kathy Darrow, incoming Co-Chair Nicole Gueron, Gabe Schwartz, Amani Martin (former Board Member), Diane Steinberg, incoming Co-Chair Harsha Marti, and outgoing Board Chair Alan Fishman.

Fishman stepped up and graciously agreed to extend his service to ensure a healthy and successful transition, the Foundation writes. Now, he is passing the baton to the next generation of Foundation leadership.

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“Being a part of Brooklyn Community Foundation has been one of the great highlights of my life,” Fishman said. “No other experience has brought me closer to the place I have always called home, and to solutions for the challenges that our communities have faced for decades.

Just last week, Borough President Eric Adams announced a partnership with Brooklyn Community Foundation to enlist local nonprofits to help boost our borough’s census count.

“As I step back from this role, I fully trust that Nicole, Harsha, and the entire Board of Directors — all of whom love Brooklyn as much as I do — will stop at nothing to continue to fight for and achieve real change,” he continued.

Alan Fishman is credited for creating the structure to make the Brooklyn Community Foundation the transformative force it is today. Photo: Kate Attardo/Brooklyn Eagle

As both the founder and force behind Brooklyn Community Foundation, Fishman steered the creation of the first public community foundation for New York City’s largest borough while he was chair of the Foundation’s predecessor institution, the Independence Community Foundation, which was established by Independence Community Bank, where Fishman was president and CEO.

Read our recent profile of Alan Fishman, chronicling his Crown Heights roots, his career in banking and his work in establishing the Brooklyn Community Foundation. 

Fishman has overseen $150 million in grantmaking over the past two decades — the vast majority of it invested in grassroots organizations in Brooklyn.

Thanks to Fishman’s stewardship, the Foundation is in a strong financial position, having secured record contributions over the past two years. Most importantly, the Foundation has distributed record funding year-over-year — granting close to $8 million in 2019 — and now administers almost 80 donor-advised funds.

New Board Co-Chair Nicole Gueron.

“Harsha and I deeply admire the immense contributions Alan has made to Brooklyn, and the legacy he has created with this Foundation and all that it has accomplished — including being a lifeline throughout the COVID-19 crisis,” said incoming Co-Chair Nicole Gueron. “Alan has been a faithful guardian of the Foundation’s assets, investments in our communities, and civic leadership as it has become an essential institution for our borough.”

“Nicole and I are fully invested in the future of Brooklyn, and see unlimited potential for the Foundation to be a powerful catalyst for change,” added incoming Co-Chair Harsha Marti. “Alan is Brooklyn, through and through. He has always believed in the promise of the borough, its ability to be what urban America can and should be.

Read about how Brooklyn Community Foundation mobilized early during the pandemic, distributing $3 million to local organizations.

“It is an honor to take the mantle from a true Brooklyn legend and build on Alan’s great work,” he added. “In this most challenging moment for our borough, our city, and our country, we must answer the call to ensure a more fair and just Brooklyn for all of its residents.”

New Board Co-Chair Harsha Marti.

Fishman is a lifelong Brooklynite, a Crown Heights native, and proud graduate of the famed Erasmus Hall High School, where he was captain of the basketball team.

In addition to his contributions to Brooklyn Community Foundation, Fishman has chaired the boards of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

“Alan hired me in June 2013 and this seven-year partnership has been a high point of my professional career,” reflected Foundation President and CEO Cecilia Clarke. “My deepest gratitude goes out to Alan for his unwavering support as we envisioned what a community foundation could be for this incredible borough we both call home. And I am so excited to join forces with Harsha and Nicole as we continue our urgent mission for Brooklyn.”

Gueron, co-founder of the law firm Clarick Gueron Reisbaum LLP, has been a board member since 2016, and Marti, managing director at Warburg Pincus LLC, has served on the board since 2014.

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