With New Executive Director, Westfield Foundation Turning a Corner (TAPintoWestfield)

Katie Curran Darcy has started as the philanthropic organization’s new executive director.

The Westfield Foundation’s new executive direct Katie Curran Darcy, left, with foundation president Larry Darrow and vice president Corey J. Wu-Jung.

WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Foundation is at a key moment in its development as it works to widen its impact under new leadership.

“We want to have a broader impact on the community,” said Westfield Foundation President Larry Darrow in a recent interview. “We want to continue to impact high-quality organizations. What do I mean by that? Organizations that not only fit our mandate but have what we think is a high return on investment.”

The goal, Darrow said, is to help applicants have a more significant impact on what they are doing and, as a result, fill a greater need. What differentiates the Westfield Foundation from other like-minded organizations is that they focus on capital projects, Darrow said.

“We’re looking for the organization that says if we had [for example] $50,000 we could build a classroom, we could add more equipment we could start a new project or a program and then, hopefully, after year one it’ll be self-sufficient,” he said.

Recently, the foundation pledged $50,000* to the Lincoln School playground project, which aims to make the facility accessible to children of all abilities.

The Foundation offers two grant programs: one is a traditional grant program which any organization that’s a nonprofit can apply to.

The other, a larger piece of the foundation’s funding, Darrow said, comes from Betty Bogaert — a Westfield resident who left the foundation her entire estate of nearly $7 million.

“That money is earmarked for capital campaigns – much larger grant programs,” he said. “Examples of that would be the playground at Mindowaskin Park, the STEM classroom at the high school.”

Other projects have included those for capital improvements at the Westfield Area YMCA in 2018, at Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside in 2021 and for a family waiting area at Overlook Medical Center in 2022, he said.

The Westfield Foundation also recently provided funding to support the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association’s exhibit at the Center for Creativity at the Rialto in January highlighting African American History in Westfield, Darrow said.

“We thought it was a unique and awesome opportunity for us to support that project and be able to help an organization like MLK to help put something like that on,” he said.

New Leadership

In 2020, the former executive director, Betsy B. Chance, retired after 26 years in the role and the foundation has had some interim executive directors.

“Since then, the foundation’s been going through a bit of a renaissance,” Darrow said. “We’ve made some more internal investments in our process, our procedures our organization.”

Key has been bringing on a new executive director: Katie Curran Darcy, who started with the Foundation in March.

“She comes to the organization with a wealth of experience, a strong background, a huge organic, philanthropic background,” Darrow said. “We’re very fortunate to have her.”

“Her go-getter attitude, that is what attracted her to us,” said Corey J. Wu-Jung, vice president of the foundation’s board. “Her ability to research a situation and found out solutions is really appealing to us. She has knowledge of payment systems, automating different mechanisms. That was important to us as we move into modernizing our operation.”

Darcy, a lifelong resident of Summit, has 20 years of experience in both public and private sectors, including on Wall Street and more recently in the advancement office of Oak Knoll School in Summit. She serves on the Board of The Connie Dwyer Breast Cancer Foundation and the Overlook Hospital Community Council. She previously served on The Summit Foundation and Summit Lacrosse Club Boards.

In Summit, she created the Front Line Appreciation Group, which started delivering meals to hospitals and first responders during the pandemic. It is a project primarily funded through private donations.

“The notion of giving back has always driven me, and it’s nice to finally have a position where that’s what I’m doing,” Darcy said.

Her focus at the Westfield Foundation in the coming months will be getting to know the organizations the Westfield Foundation supports and getting the foundation’s message out to the community, she said.

“Really what I’d like to do is grow the organization and strategically think about fundraising,” Darcy said. “There’s always going to be needs. For us, we’d like to get the Foundation’s name out there on projects we believe in that are truly the heart and soul of Westfield.”

To learn more about The Westfield Foundation, visit its website. Darcy can be reached at kathryn.curran-darcy@thewestfieldfoundation.org.

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