Announcing Hope for Haiti’s New Board Chair, The Honorable Mary E. Sommer
Dear Hope for Haiti Family,
We are proud today to share the news that The Honorable Mary E. Sommer was elected by Hope for Haiti’s Board of Directors to serve as the organization’s new board chair, succeeding Tiffany Kuehner who served as chair for the past five years and was previously CEO.
For our entire global community, this marks a very important step in a multi-generational leadership succession plan.
For 32 years, Hope for Haiti has been working to improve the quality of life for the Haitian people, particularly children. When JoAnne Kuehner founded the organization in 1989 to ensure students could access an education, she may not have known that Hope for Haiti would develop into one of the most trusted international nonprofits working to alleviate poverty and bridge the opportunity gap for Haitian children, parents, and grandparents.
After persevering through the challenging social, economic, and political periods of the last three decades and responding to numerous natural disasters including the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hope for Haiti continues to find ways to achieve its mission while maintaining the highest standards of transparency, accountability, and good governance.
JoAnne credits leadership and good governance as two of the primary reasons for Hope for Haiti’s success. She personally has worn many hats over the last 30 years, including founder and board chair. She recently stepped into a new role as a board member emeritus. Over the years, JoAnne has been instrumental in working with Hope for Haiti’s outgoing board chair, her granddaughter, Tiffany Kuehner, to develop a strategic succession plan for the organization. “I know that few family-founded organizations have been able to successfully move from family generational leadership to fully independent management and board leadership. As the founder of Hope for Haiti, I’ve always felt strongly that in order for our organization to be able to grow, I’d have to take a step back and provide an opportunity for new leadership to help guide and advise the organization as it evolves,” explained JoAnne. “Tiffany has served the organization in various capacities over the past 20 years and has done an extraordinary job in her roles as CEO and board chair. We both felt that now is the right time to take the next step in Hope for Haiti’s development for both of us to step aside to enable new leadership to lead the organization forward.”
In her role as board chair and former CEO, Tiffany Kuehner oversaw much of the organization’s exponential growth since the 2010 earthquake. This fall, Tiffany will be transitioning the board chair role over to longtime Hope for Haiti board member, The Honorable Mary E. Sommer. It will mark the first time in Hope for Haiti’s 30 plus year history that a Kuehner family member has not held the top leadership position within the organization.
“This next step is a testament to each member of the Hope for Haiti global family. Every individual who has believed in and invested in Hope for Haiti’s mission over the years is the reason why this successful board leadership transition is possible. My wish is for Hope for Haiti to continue evolving to meet the needs of the Haitian people and to be a model and leader for best practices in sustainable community development work and global philanthropy. Mary Sommer is the perfect person to step into the board chair position because of her many years of service to Hope for Haiti, her deep passion for the people of Haiti, and her lifelong commitment to non-profit governance and leadership development,” explained Tiffany. “Mary has the core values and the respect of the entire Hope for Haiti organization. She will excel in her role as the organization’s next board chair and we are here to support her in every way we can.”
Mary will lead a dynamic board of 15 members, and a staff that has grown to more than 60 full-time employees in Haiti and in the United States. “It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to continue JoAnne and Tiffany Kuehner’s legacies of unrelenting commitment and support to Haitian families,” she said. “Haiti is a place that is very close to my heart. I’m looking forward to working with CEO Skyler Badenoch, my fellow board members, and the entire Hope for Haiti family to help make our long-term vision for Haiti a reality: joyful children, healthy families, thriving communities, and the resources to make it so.”
Michael Gay, a business leader both in Haiti and in the United States, will become Hope for Haiti’s new vice chair, replacing Dee Dee Nye, who has given more than a decade of service to Hope for Haiti’s board. JoAnne, Tiffany, and Dee Dee will remain committed in their support of Hope for Haiti. To assist Mary and Michael, JoAnne and Tiffany have documented the core founding operating principles that have guided Hope for Haiti’s growth to help serve as a road map for board succession. You can find those core principles HERE.