Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, has been elected Chair of The Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Corporation is the nation’s largest grant maker for volunteering and service, engaging more than five million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leading the President’s United We Serve initiative. The board sets overall policy and direction for the Corporation and its programs.
Gearan was first appointed to the Corporation’s board by President Clinton in 2000, was reappointed by President Bush in 2004, and began serving his current term in 2007. Gearan will become chair on June 1, replacing Stephen Goldsmith, who was recently named Deputy Mayor of New York City.
“I’m excited to take on this role at a time of growing need and momentum for service in America,” said Gearan. “I want to thank Stephen Goldsmith for his decade of leadership that strengthened our agency and programs. With the leadership of President Obama, the bipartisan support of Congress, and a renewed ethic of service across the country, we are entering an exciting era of innovation, expansion, and impact for service.”
Continuing a tradition of bipartisanship that has been a hallmark of the board since its creation, it named Eric Tanenblatt, senior managing director with the international law firm of McKenna, Long and Aldridge, LLP, to serve as vice-chair.
Gearan and Tanenblatt have extensive experience in the service movement. Both worked at the Peace Corps and served on the Corporation’s board. They bring a keen understanding of the American political process, having served in senior government positions under four Presidents.
“Mark and Eric are bipartisan leaders with decades of high-level experience who will continue to provide critical insight as we increase the impact of service in tackling our most pressing problems,” said Corporation CEO Patrick Corvington, who made the announcements at the May 12 board meeting.
Gearan became President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1999, and has reinforced the Colleges’ commitment to academic rigor, global understanding, study abroad opportunities, community service and service-learning. In 1995, President Clinton appointed Gearan as the Director of the Peace Corps. Prior to this, he served as Assistant to the President and White House Director of Communications and White House Deputy Chief of Staff.
Tanenblatt is senior managing director with the international law firm of McKenna, Long and Aldridge, LLP. He leads his law firm’s National Government Affairs Group, focusing on governmental and regulatory affairs at the federal, state and local levels. He has held numerous positions in federal and state government, including Chief of Staff to Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and longtime advisor to the late U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell (R-GA). He served in the Administration of President George H. W. Bush at the Peace Corps and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focusing on Congressional and intergovernmental affairs. He is the founder and past chairman of Hands on Georgia, a statewide organization to promote volunteerism.
The appointments come at a time of strong momentum for the agency and the larger volunteer sector. Volunteering increased last year to its highest level since 2003. The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, passed with strong bipartisan support signed into law last April, significantly expanded existing national service programs and created new initiatives to support volunteer management and social innovation. The Corporation’s programs have generated strong interest and a high volume of applications from organizations and individuals, reflecting growing recognition that service is a valuable way to address community challenges.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article about Gearan’s appointment on May 17. That article is available online.