The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida Selects Isaiah M. Oliver as Next President

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Effective July 31, Oliver will succeed Nina Waters, who is retiring after 22 years with The Community Foundation

Jacksonville, FL – May 10, 2023 – Following a nationwide search, the Board of Trustees of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida (TCF) today announced that it has unanimously selected Isaiah M. Oliver as TCF’s new president, effective July 31, 2023. 

A proven community leader and a bright star in the field of place-based philanthropy, Oliver will continue the Foundation’s focus on donor stewardship and strategic philanthropy that improves the lives of everyone in the six-county Northeast Florida region. Oliver will serve as the third president of The Community Foundation, stepping into the role after more than nine years at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (Flint, MI), where he currently serves as President and CEO. 

“Throughout this process, Isaiah has impressed us as a dynamic, collaborative leader who has the vision and the skills to advance our mission of stimulating philanthropy to build a better community,” said The Honorable Brian J. Davis, chair of The Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “We are happy and excited to welcome him to Northeast Florida as The Community Foundation’s next president.”

Brian J. Davis

Oliver will succeed TCF President Nina M. Waters, who will retire on September 1 after 22 years with the Foundation. Under her leadership, The Community Foundation has established itself as a premier philanthropic anchor institution, with more than $1 billion in total gifts since its founding, an engaged network of 660+ fundholders and donors, and a record $57.7 million in grants distributed in 2022. It has also grown multiple philanthropic initiatives, including the Women’s Giving Alliance, the Beaches Community Fund, the LGBTQ Community Fund for Northeast Florida, the A.L. Lewis Black Opportunity and Impact Fund, the Donors Forum, Art Ventures and many more. 

“The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida has an outstanding reputation locally and nationally for donor service and strategic community philanthropy,” Oliver said. “I’m looking forward to building relationships with donors, grantees and the community, to better understand how I can build on the strength of the Foundation in our next chapter.”

Isaiah M. Oliver

Oliver has a proven record of community impact. He was recruited to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF), a top 100 largest community foundation by asset size, based on his prior successful service on the Flint Board of Education. He started as the CFGF’s  Vice President of Community Impact in 2014 and was selected as President and CEO in 2017. He led the CFGF’s response to the Flint water crisis, elevating the CFGF to the national spotlight and forging successful partnerships with government and regional funders. In 2020, he directed the CFGF to establish and lead a multi-sector COVID task force focused on addressing racial inequities, an effort that nearly eradicated the sizable gap that existed between Black residents and white residents’ health outcomes at the start of the pandemic. 

Oliver is a well-known thought leader in the field of community-based philanthropy. His current regional and national leadership roles include vice chair of community philanthropy on the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) board; chair of CMF’s Michigan Community Foundation Committee; and a member of the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) board of directors. In addition, he is chair-elect of the CF Leads national board of directors and serves on the Council on Foundations’ Public Policy Advisory Committee. Oliver was a fellow of the inaugural class of the Civil Society Fellowship, a partnership of the Anti-Defamation League and The Aspen Institute, and is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

A President Search Committee of current and former TCF trustees recommended Oliver from nearly 100 local, state and national applicants. The trustees of The Community Foundation then unanimously approved him as TCF’s next president. The President Search Committee was assisted by Kittleman, a national executive search firm dedicated to serving nonprofits and philanthropy.

Oliver joins a seasoned, 25-person staff that has built TCF into one of the nation’s top 50 largest community foundations based on total assets. The staff has received commendations on many levels, including stellar donor satisfaction scores. In 2019, when The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) conducted the organization’s first ever Donor Perception Report, TCF received the highest average rating of any community foundation in CEP’s dataset for both donors’ overall satisfaction with the Foundation and perceptions of staff responsiveness.

Oliver will step into the role on July 31, which will provide the opportunity for him to spend one month with Nina Waters as outgoing president before she and her husband, Lex Waters, move to northern Georgia, near their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

“I am incredibly grateful to our staff, trustees and partners who have been essential to our success over the last 22 years,” Waters said. “We are starting our next chapter in a position of great strength, and I have no doubt Isaiah is the right leader for us at this time.”

Nina M. Waters

Oliver is a graduate of Flint Northwestern High School and earned his Bachelor of Applied Arts from Central Michigan University, where he now serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Gamma Delta Boulé of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Rotary Club of Flint, past president of the Flint Alumni Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and an active member of numerous other community organizations.

Oliver is a native of Flint, and he has family in the Southeast and in Northeast Florida. He and his wife Shay, along with their children, Zaiah (12), Carrington (9), Chelyn (5) and Isaiah II (3), look forward to joining the Northeast Florida community this summer. 


Stephanie Garry Garfunkel

Vice President, Strategic Communications

The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida


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