10-year community foundation president decides to step down, leaving fat fund

Armbruster will focus on Goldseker organization

September 22, 1999|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

The president of the Baltimore Community Foundation is stepping down after 10 years -- a tenure that has seen the foundation's coffers and grant-making swell nearly seven times over.

Timothy D. Armbruster, 55, said he has decided to devote all of his time to his other job, president of the $110 million Morris Goldseker Foundation.

Armbruster has run the Goldseker Foundation -- established in 1976 with the real estate fortune of Goldseker, a Baltimore landlord -- for 20 years. In 1989, the Goldseker board decided to shore up the Baltimore Community Foundation, then a fledgling fund of $15 million.

Ten years later, the community foundation has almost $100 million in assets and is ranked 58th largest out of 547 community foundations in the United States, according to an annual survey conducted by the Columbus Community Foundation in Ohio.

Armbruster and board members of both foundations say the community foundation deserves a full-time executive.

"The community foundation, I hope, is poised to make a significant jump from being a good, solid growing community institution to being a pre-eminent one," Armbruster said. "It had really reached the point where it wasn't fair, I think, to either institution not to have the attention of a chief executive officer."

Community foundations, increasingly popular around the country, strive to fill a philanthropic middle ground. While the wealthy have the means to create foundations, community foundations target givers of more modest means, providing administrative staff to see that money goes where the donor intends.

The funds managed by a community foundation have more than doubled in 10 years, from 104 to 274. Their contributors are varied, from inheritors of generations of wealth to working people blessed with windfalls.

"It's been a remarkable time for the growth of community foundations," said Eugene C. Struckhoff of Lutherville, who ran the Community Foundation before Armbruster and has since helped launch more than 100 community foundations as a consultant. "I'm not surprised at [Baltimore's] growth."

Armbruster said he reached his decision after conversations with the board chairmen of both organizations.

"One thing that community foundations do in other cities very effectively is exercise leadership in the community, and that's not a part-time job," said Walter D. Pinkard Jr., chairman of the community foundation's board.

Historically, the Goldseker Foundation has given the community foundation a $250,000 annual operating grant. That support will continue for three years and then be subject to review. "We've a reached a new plateau," said Sheldon Goldseker, chairman of the foundation. "Like a parent who raises a child, it is time to step back and let the child take wing."

The community foundation has focused attention on the arts in recent years. It also helped start the Safe and Sound campaign to improve life for Baltimore children.

Armbruster, a senior officer of the Cleveland Foundation before coming to Baltimore, said he takes more pride in the overall growth of the foundation. "I think the fact of having been able to develop the Community Foundation [into] some size and increasing stature has been more important over this period of time than anything specific that we did," he said.

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