Ellen Lehman, founder and president of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, announces her retirement

CFMT to Honor Lehman with Prestigious Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award in 2023

Ellen Eskind Lehman, who more than 30 years ago founded, created and developed the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT) as a philanthropic force that has donated more than $1.1 billion to nonprofits across the country, announced that she would retire as president of the association at the end of 2022.

In recognition of his vast and enduring contributions, the CFMT Board of Directors will honor Lehman with the prestigious Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award sometime in 2023 and named Lehman an Honorary Lifetime Trustee of the organization.

The CFMT Board of Directors formed a search committee to identify a new leader. Lehman will continue in his current role through a planned six-month transition.

“Through unrelenting determination, fearless leadership and boundless creativity, Ellen Lehman founded and grew CFMT into an organization that matters and impacts every corner of our community by connecting generosity to need,” said Lyle Beasley, Chairman of CFMT’s Board of Directors. “Ellen changed Nashville for the better and forever.

“Leading with a big heart, Ellen harnessed the exceptional giving spirit of this entire community to identify and meet all of Greater Nashville’s needs and aspirations,” Beasley continued. “With the deepest gratitude for her leadership, the Community Foundation plans to honor Ellen throughout 2022 and as we celebrate the opening of our new headquarters, which she made possible.”

For the past 31 years, Lehman and his team have leveraged generously donated office space, making the May 2021 grand opening of his new home currently under construction at the corner of Woodmont and Belmont Boulevards a landmark moment in the history of the CFMT. The new facility will house the activities of the organization’s 50 employees.

Along with the creation, management and growth of CFMT, the new facility is the crowning achievement of Lehman’s career.

“The opening of the new headquarters is a good time to pass the torch to a new leader who can chart the future course of the Community Foundation,” said Lehman. “Looking back, I’m so proud to have worked alongside our incredible team and long-standing board of directors who have made our ambitious dreams come true.

“It has also been a tremendous honor to support Nashville in partnership with so many generous and caring community and nonprofit leaders,” Lehman continued. “I love this city and cherish every day that I have had the chance to interact with so many people involved in the meaningful work that sets us apart and moves Middle Tennessee forward.”

After founding the organization in his garage in 1991, Lehman recruited its inaugural board of directors and raised the funds to begin the work of building the Community Foundation into a charitable powerhouse. Today, the organization manages assets of more than $550 million and provides effective and responsible program funding to meet a wide range of nonprofit needs in 40 counties across Middle Tennessee and beyond.

CFMT administers seven different types of funds that reflect the priorities of its donors and makes grants available to nonprofit organizations, primarily those that serve the Middle Tennessee community. In addition, the organization:

  • Provides a number of direct services for Middle Tennessee including ChildcareTennessee, Give Black, Give Back, GivingMatters.com, NowPlayingNashville.com®;
  • Administers over 150 individual scholarships;
  • Sponsors well-known annual fundraising events, including The Power of the Purse® luncheon to benefit the Women’s Fund; the Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award and The Big Payback 24-hour online giving day.
  • Acts as one of the leading philanthropic fundraising organizations in times of need in our service area following disasters.

Lehman has been widely recognized for her leadership, including being named Nashvillian of the Year by the Easter Seals Foundation in 2017. A Nashville native and graduate of the city’s public schools and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, Lehman has earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

About the Middle Tennessee Community Foundation

The Community Foundation exists to promote and facilitate giving in all 40 counties of Middle Tennessee and beyond. It does this by accepting gifts of any size from anyone at any time and empowering individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits and communities to meet the needs and opportunities that matter. . The Community Foundation works with people with big hearts, whether or not they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect the intentions and goals of their charitable endeavours. For more information call 615-321-4939 or visit www.cfmt.org.

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