In 2015 when Ben Cameron was chosen to succeed Cynthia Gehrig as president of both the Jerome Foundation in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, he was filled with both excitement and questions about how the two organizations could work together under shared leadership. The two foundations, though started independently of each other, shared a founder in the late Jerome Hill. When the Camargo Foundation ran into financial distress after the 2008 stock market crash, it turned to Gehrig and the Jerome Foundation for help.
In 2013, the two organizations entered a loose three-year agreement to keep Camargo’s programs running while searching for a long-term solution. Camargo Foundation trustees resigned and were replaced by the Jerome Foundation’s board of directors. Gehrig, who was then Camargo’s board chair, became president and immediately hired Julie Chénot, a French arts administrator, as an on-site program director. Gehring was then president of both foundations and operated them from the Jerome Foundation offices in Saint Paul. She maintained this dual leadership position until her retirement in 2015.
In the search for Gehrig’s successor, the board saw the dual presidency as an opportunity to find synergy and efficiency by combining resources. They believed Camargo Foundation business would take up about a quarter of the president’s office time, allowing the new leader to focus on the Jerome Foundation’s strategic direction. They were attracted to Ben Cameron because of his long career in arts philanthropy and unique nation-wide perspective, having worked at larger grantmaking foundations.
By December of 2016, Cameron was at a crossroads. Managing the Camargo Foundation was occupying 35-40 hours of what had become a 60-70 hour workweek. Instead of finding opportunities for synergy he was finding more challenges and struggling to balance the two positions. With a deadline to launch the Jerome Foundation’s new grantmaking program in early 2017, Cameron needed to lead the board to make two interdependent decisions. Should the two foundations merge or separate? What would the strategic grantmaking framework for Jerome Foundation be?
This case contains a video link.
Publication Date: 2019-05-15
Keywords: France, Minneapolis, Case Video, Donor Relations, Organizational Direction
Suggested Citation: Lucia Bacqué, "Jerome Foundation (2016)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #18-91, May 15, 2019
Teaching Notes: Yes (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
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