The John T. Gorman Foundation announced today that its President & CEO Tony Cipollone will retire on Feb. 1, 2022, after leading the organization through a major period of growth. Chief Program Officer Nicole Witherbee, now in her 10th year at the Foundation, has been selected by the board of directors as its new president & CEO.
The Portland-based John T. Gorman Foundation works to improve the lives of disadvantaged Maine people. It was founded in 1995 by John Thomas (Tom) Gorman, a grandson of L.L. Bean who would later leave a transformational gift to the Foundation when he passed away in 2010. Shortly after, the Board hired Cipollone – who had held senior leadership positions for over 20 years at the national Annie E. Casey Foundation – as its first president & CEO.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank Tony for his years of distinguished service to the Foundation. Ten years ago, we saw in Tony an experienced leader capable of building an organization that would not only carry on my uncle’s legacy of generosity, but advance ideas and strategies designed to make the greatest possible difference in the lives of Maine people,” said Board Chair Shawn Gorman.
“By all accounts, he has far exceeded those expectations, presiding over a period of incredible growth in the Foundation’s giving, partnerships, and impact. As chief program officer for the Foundation, Nicole has led the Foundation’s programmatic work and initiatives during this same period. We could not think of a better person to lead the Foundation’s next chapter.”
“It has been a great honor to work with the Board, staff, and our partners to advance Tom’s wishes that the Foundation work to improve the lives of low-income Mainers. I’m proud of the work that we’ve done over the last decade not only to address immediate needs, but also to support innovative ideas and collaborative partnerships that can have deep, wide-ranging impacts on entire systems and communities,” said Cipollone. “With great energy and vision, Nicole has been critical in shaping these partnerships and leading them toward ambitious goals. I look forward to seeing the Foundation continue to grow and become even more effective under her leadership.”
“It has been a privilege to have been part of the Foundation’s development and growth under Tony’s leadership for the past 10 years, and I feel honored to have been chosen to lead it into its next phase of growth,” said Witherbee. “Hardship is not new to Maine people, but the pandemic has exacerbated many of the existing challenges they face, and we will need to remain responsive. At the same time, we are witnessing a moment of transformation, which provides an opportunity to do better by people. As the Foundation enters this transition and launches into our next strategic plan, we will work hard to leverage those opportunities and find creative, impactful solutions that improve the lives of Maine people.”
For the last 10 years, Witherbee has served as chief program officer at the John T. Gorman Foundation, a role in which she directs its programs, research, and evaluation. She has a Ph.D. in social policy from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.
Before coming to the Foundation, Witherbee held a range of positions dedicated to changing the landscape of policy and practice for people struggling to make ends meet, including the creation of a consulting firm that advised clients on policy matters, analyzing federal budget impacts for the Maine Center for Economic Policy, directing policy for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, and acting as the Interim Government Affairs Director for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. She spent her earlier years as a community organizer focused on affordable housing. Nicole also taught courses at the University of Southern Maine, Salem State University, and Bates College.
She currently sits on the Board of the Senator George J. Mitchell Scholars Institute, the Advisory Council for the Muskie School’s Public Policy and Planning Master’s Degree Program, the steering committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Maine Working Communities Challenge, and the National Committee for the American Human and Public Services Association. In addition, she is a Corporator of Gorham Savings Bank and a trustee of the Edward H. Daveis Benevolent Fund.