The Evanston Community Foundation announced today that its longtime president and CEO, Sara Schastok, plans to retire this year and that the foundation is launching a search for her successor.

Schastok joined the foundation in December 2000 after an academic and fundraising career that included positions with the University of Chicago, the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and Northwestern University.

During Schastok’s tenure, ECF has grown from a small affiliate of Evanston United Way with less than $3 million in assets to assets of about $20 million, annual grants approaching $900,000 and total annual distributions from all funds of $2.5 million.

In 2011, the Evanston Chamber of Commerce gave Schastok its annual Community Leadership Award, telling her: “We believe you best represent the qualities of creative entrepreneurship and professionalism, and you have given tremendous energy and leadership to the city of Evanston.”

Joan Gunzberg, chair of ECF’s board, said the foundation has obtained Schastok’s commitment to continue serving ECF in a consulting capacity as senior philanthropic advisor after her retirement. 

“We sincerely thank Sara for all she has done for ECF and for Evanston,” Gunzberg said in a statement, “and we look forward to her continued contributions when she assumes her new role.”

“I’ll be leaving at a time when the Foundation has never been in a better position to serve Evanston,” Schastok said.  “ECF has grown well beyond what our founders imagined, and in true Evanston spirit, thanks to generous giving to unrestricted funds that benefit the entire Evanston community, ECF will be able to address whatever Evanston’s future needs will be.”

“Our strong annual rate of investment returns has also led numerous organizations and donors to select ECF to manage their funds as well,” Schastok added. “ECF is now home to more than 80 funds for a wide variety of purposes.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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