Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Center for Nonprofit Excellence Celebrates A Decade of Making Nonprofits Stronger!

Nov 14, 2019

-Donors, Nonprofit Partners and Community Leaders Applaud the CNE’s Array of Accomplishments

(Norwalk, CT) Ten years ago, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation (FCCF) introduced its vision to strengthen, support, train, expand, and fortify the region’s nonprofit community. This vision took shape in 2009 with the establishment of FCCF’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence. Dedicated to capacity-building and professional development, this community resource has served 3,282 nonprofit leaders, staff, and board members, from 1,142 local nonprofits over the past decade. The Community Foundation kicked off the 10th Anniversary celebration for its Center for Nonprofit Excellence Wednesday evening with a cocktail party held at The Westport Library.

FCCF’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) helps nonprofit leaders, staff, board members, and volunteers increase their knowledge, improve their effectiveness, cultivate collaboration, and deliver greater impact to the people and communities collectively served throughout Fairfield County and beyond. Each year, through free and low-cost educational workshops, webinars, expert coaching, professional development resources, fundraising support, and networking opportunities, the CNE supports hundreds of local nonprofit organizations.

“As we celebrate this 10-year milestone for the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, we are reminded of how much our nonprofit organizations contribute to making Fairfield County a better place for all our communities and residents,” stated Juanita James, President and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. She continues, “We are deeply grateful to each of the generous individuals, local businesses, family and corporate foundations, our region’s elected officials, our FCCF Board members and volunteers, and so many others whose support of the CNE allows us to innovate and expand our program offerings and offer high quality programs at affordable prices to the nonprofit sector.”

During the 10th Anniversary celebration at The Westport Library, the first inductees into the new FCCF Center for Nonprofit Excellence Hall of Fame were announced, honoring the achievements of nonprofit organizations, leaders, and benefactors who have benefited from the CNE and made important contributions to Fairfield County’s vibrant and vital nonprofit sector and the broad spectrum of issues, causes, communities, and people served.

FCCF’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence Hall of Fame inaugural honorees include Bank of America; The Carver Foundation of Norwalk; CIRI: The Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants; Harvard Business School Club of Connecticut Community Partners; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Dan Levinson; Newman’s Own Foundation; Pro Bono Partnership; The Center for Nonprofits at Sacred Heart University; and SoundWaters.

“The Center for Nonprofit Excellence makes the nonprofit sector stronger by building capacity. While that may sound dry, it actually means that we learn things, we get challenged and we come out better able to respond to the challenges in our environment, our community and in our future,” commented Dr. Leigh Shemitz, President of SoundWaters, a CNE Hall of Fame honoree.


During the event a heartfelt moment was shared when the late Susan Ross, past President and CEO of FCCF, who was central in creating the CNE in 2009, was remembered in a video message from her husband, Charlie MacCormack who was traveling overseas. Mr. MacCormack, President Emeritus and former CEO of Save the Children who recently joined the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors, acknowledged that he and Susan shared the belief that the key to helping nonprofits maximize their impact is supporting their organizations in developing sustained leadership. In the video, he announced a special two-for-one challenge grant for The Susan M. Ross Fund for Great Leadership at FCCF, saluting the legacy of his late wife with the goal of adding at least $375,000 to the Fund. Created by Susan’s colleagues at the Community Foundation upon her retirement, the Fund supports the CNE, including partially underwriting the costs of the CNE’s Executive Leadership Program.


Fairfield County’s Giving Day, which is powered by FCCF through the CNE, has raised more than $7.6 million for more than 1,100 local nonprofits since its inception in 2014. Nonprofit registration is open for Giving Day 2020, which will take place on February 27, 2020.

The CNE is generously supported by FCCF’s charitable fundholders who have made significant gifts to CNE this 10th Anniversary year. They include The Robie and Scott Spector Charitable Fund; The Buckeye Fund; The McGrath Family Fund; The Herbert B. West Award Fund; The Hope Fund and The Horton Family Fund. Additionally, significant support has been garnered from donors and local foundations including Dan Levinson; Charlie MacCormack; Charlotte and John Suhler; Juanita James and Dudley Williams; Lone Pine Foundation; Newman’s Own Foundation; Near & Far Aid Association; and a host of other generous contributors.