Northwest News

Greater Tacoma Community Foundation chooses Gates Foundation officer as new head

The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation has chosen Kathi Littmann, a senior program officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as its next president and CEO.

“The candidates were spectacular. We had a wonderful pool to choose from,” said Ed Grogan, chairman of the foundation’s 15-member board and a member of the search committee that considered candidates throughout the country for the job.

“She (Littmann) brought together such a unique combination of talents that we thought she could take the foundation to places we hadn’t even thought of,” Grogan said. “She has a very forward-looking vision.”

The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation currently has more than $110 million in assets, and over the past 34 years has distributed more than $97 million in grants in Pierce County.

Recipients range from summer camps and suicide prevention programs to food banks, arts organizations and environmental groups.

For the past 2 1/2 years, Littmann, 61, has worked with the Gates Foundation’s “College Ready Work” program. She’s also the founder and president of 2RDS Inc., an education consulting firm.

Littmann holds a doctorate of education in educational leadership for social justice and a master of education, both from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Before her work in education, Littmann worked for 25 years in commercial construction management.

She held a variety of management positions with the Los Angeles Unified School District, including a three-year stint as the district’s chief of new facilities construction.

In that position she managed a staff of 480 and a capital program of more than $6 billion, according to her resume.

On July 1, she will move into the position currently occupied by Rose Lincoln Hamilton, the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation’s president and CEO for the past 11 years.

Hamilton announced her retirement last September.

Littmann said she is selling her home in Kingston and will move to Tacoma as soon as she can.

“I spend at least half my life traveling,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to making Tacoma my home and feeling grounded there. One of my primary focuses is really getting connected into the community.”

Asked what needs the foundation has that she hopes to fill, Littmann said she doesn’t see her task as filling unmet needs.

“They’re doing such a good job already, it’s like starting from the high diving board with this group,” she said. “They are so passionately committed.

“It’s not like, here are the things that need to be fixed. It’s more about me getting smarter about the opportunities to go deeper and have a bigger impact. It’s about how we accelerate and leverage the really great work they’ve done so far.”

Foundation officials would not say what Littmann will be paid. According to tax forms required of nonprofits by the Internal Revenue Service, Hamilton’s compensation totaled $206,432 in fiscal 2013-14.

The foundation has a full-time staff of 12, including the CEO.