New London — Alice Fitzpatrick, who during the past 18 years has guided the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut from a $4 million nonprofit to a $42 million philanthropic organization, will retire next spring.
Fitzpatrick informed the board of trustees last week of her intention to leave the foundation that serves 42 towns.
"It won't be until June,'' she said Friday. "I just know it's my time. I have a few ideas, but I'm going to take some time to think about what I want to do.''
The board is expected to make a formal announcement next week.
Fitzpatrick joined the Community Foundation as its president in 1995 when the group had about $4 million in assets. Today, it has a $42 million endowment, and last year it poured about $3 million back into the community. Since the organization began in 1983, more than $30 million has been distributed in the form of grants and scholarships, Fitzpatrick said.
"One of numbers that impresses me is that in the last five years, we've given out $12.5 million,'' she said.
That, she said, shows that the community believes in the foundation and its ability to return donations to the community.
"The trick is, you have to bring money in the door, grow it, have enough to give some out, and keep giving good grants that inspire people to continue to give,'' she said. "I feel like people have caught on."
She said the foundation also has become a "pass through" organization, where donors ask that their money be distributed immediately.
"The magic of it for me, in this area, unlike some other parts of Connecticut, there aren't deep pockets,'' she said. "We have gifts from $5 to $5 million. The range is incredible."
The Community Foundation has become a place for anyone who wants to be philanthropic, she said.
In 2010, Fitzpatrick received the Martha S. Newman Award from the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy for her "sustained and exemplary" service. For several years, she advised and mentored the staff of the Community Foundation of the Tri-County Area and worked with the organization to develop Women & Girls Funds in Willimantic and Norwich.
She also was instrumental in the 2010 merger of Tri-County into the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut. Fitzpatrick also serves on numerous statewide committees and boards.
Before joining the community foundation in 1995, Fitzpatrick worked with an online information company, served in the Peace Corps in Africa, and was the chief executive officer of a $6 million social-service provider.