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Longtime leader Nancy K. Johnson transitioning to retirement

The Legacy Foundation, Lake County’s Community Foundation, has named Harry J. Vande Velde III as president and chief executive officer.

Vande Velde joined the organization in mid-June to ensure a seamless transition as longtime President Nancy Johnson transitions to retirement. Johnson announced in March she will retire this year after 11 years as president of the organization, prompting a nationwide search. Vande Velde was selected by a search committee comprised of Legacy Foundation board members and representatives of the community and Lake County nonprofit organizations from among nearly 100 applicants.

“Harry brings an extensive background in fundraising and nonprofit leadership as well as education that will benefit Legacy Foundation and the community,” said Robert Nickovich, chairman of the board of directors of Legacy Foundation. “His vision will support the strategic direction the board has set, which is focused on educational attainment for all students in Lake County.”

Vande Velde noted that he and Johnson are working collaboratively, with board support, to effect a smooth transition in leadership of the foundation. Johnson will be serving as a mentor and advisor to Vande Velde in the coming months.

During Johnson’s tenure, Legacy’s assets have grown from $8 million to more than $35 million. Since its founding in 1992, Legacy has awarded more than $20 million in grants and scholarships.

“My charge is to be the guardian of all that Nancy has brought to the Legacy Foundation, to the constituencies of Lake County, and to the impact this organization has on the community,” Vande Velde said. “I understand the dynamics of the economy and of 21st century philanthropy, and I will work diligently with the board of directors to make sure that Legacy Foundation is always positioned to be the best choice for a donor. We truly want to be the leading philanthropic entity in Lake County, for donors and for those seeking grants.”

Vande Velde previously was vice president of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago. He also served as CEO of St. Jude League & Claretian Publications in Chicago, and as president, or headmaster, of The Schools of St. Benedict in Chicago, which has 800 students from preschool through high school.

In addition, Vande Velde’s experience includes nonprofit consulting and presenting, teaching and coaching. He earned a master’s degree in education with a concentration in supervision from Cleveland State University, and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Dayton.

Vande Velde and his wife, Paula, a Lake County native, look forward to relocating to the community from Chicago.

Johnson’s retirement caps a 35-year career in nonprofit development, both as a volunteer and as professional staff. She is retiring to spend more time with family, to travel and to pursue personal interests.

“The board of directors has worked very hard to develop a strategic vision, and they understand the changing role of community foundations,” Johnson said. “I think this is a very exciting time, both for me and for the organization. Change is good for an organization. It brings new ideas and different perspectives. Legacy Foundation is well-positioned to continue its tradition of growth and leadership to benefit people throughout Lake County.”

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