Luis Ubiñas, president of the New York-based Ford Foundation, announced this week that he will step down from his position in September.
“One of the hardest things for a leader is to know when to step down. I believe it is when he has given as much as he can to the institution he leads,” Ubiñas said in a message to foundation staff. “After a period of profound transformation, both in our society and at the Ford Foundation, that moment has come for me.
Ubiñas spent six years at the top of Ford, helping the grant maker refocus its programs. He took over in 2007, as the housing market pulled the economy toward recession, and by 2009 Ford’s assets had plummeted 30 percent to $8 billion. Ubiñas used buyouts to drive the Ford staff total from 550 down to its current 378.
Ford has built its asset based by $3 billion since 2009, and during Ubiñas’s tenure, has made some $2.4 billion in grants.
“The foundation has been fortunate to have someone of Luis’s business acumen and ability devote an important part of his career to a philanthropic institution,” said Irene Hirano Inouye, chair of the foundation’s Board of Trustees. “He has led us to our next era of accomplishment, and we are grateful for his commitment to the foundation and its mission.”
About 60 percent of the foundation’s grant making is done in the United States, and the overarching focus of the work is social justice. Ford funds the Harvard-led Innovations in Government Award, a competition that frequently involves youth-serving agencies.
The foundation has largely gone away from directly funding youth work and advocacy in the United States, though. In the 1990s and early 2000s, its Community Youth Development initiative fueled investment in organizations like the National Youth Employment Coalition, American Youth Policy Forum, the Forum for Youth Investment, and Center for Youth Development and Policy Research.