Sue Conley to leave Community Foundation

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, October 10, 2013

JANESVILLE—The Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin will have a new leader next year.

Executive Director Sue Conley announced Thursday she is leaving the nonprofit charitable organization in July.

Her decision wasn't easy, she said.

“I feel nonprofit leadership should change every 10 to 12 years because new energy is a good thing for organizations like us. The timing is right for the foundation as well as for me personally,” she said.

The foundation was re-accredited in September for the next five years by the Community Foundations National Standards Board that measures quality, integrity and accountability in six areas of operations.

“This is a way for us to make sure we are a foundation that has excellent policies and procedures to ensure that we are doing a good job of holding charitable assets for the communities that we serve,” Conley said.

Meanwhile, Conley said, she has no plans beyond June and will continue to focus on the foundation until her July departure.

Conley came to the Community Foundation in 2002 after a decade at YWCA Rock County. Since then, the foundation's assets have grown from $16 million to more than $36 million, and the number of charitable funds held by the organization has risen 24 percent to more than 550.

Her foundation tenure has been marked by a series of new charitable initiatives that have included coordinating the Farmers Market Coupon Program, implementing the Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship program and overseeing the Flood Recovery Fund in 2008. She also founded the Women's Fund in 2003 to serve the needs of women and girls in Rock County.

Conley said her biggest accomplishment is growing the foundation to reach nine Southern Wisconsin counties.

“It really has been a pleasure to work with many people within the Southern Wisconsin region to create charitable funds that help improve and enhance the lives of people,” she said.

The board will meet next week to create a plan for the new executive director recruitment and selection.

“Because I've given them lots of notice, they probably won't start accepting resumes until January, but we don't have that plan in place yet,” she said.

“It really has been a joy to work here,” Conley said.

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