Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation launches search for CEO

The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation is seeking to hire a new CEO to succeed President Katherine Lorenz, granddaughter of the Mitchells.

San Francisco-based Waldron has been hired to manage the search for the foundation's first nonfamily leader, according to a press release. A longer job description is found on Waldron's website, and the firm’s principal, Jeff Waldron, is leading the search.

(Photo / The New York Times) Katherine Lorenz has served as president of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation since January 2011. 

“The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation is seeking a new CEO who is passionate about the field of family philanthropy and committed to high impact," Grant Mitchell, chair of the board, said in the release. "The ideal candidate will understand the complex issues at the core of our grantmaking programs, our grantees, and the political landscape of both Texas and the U.S.—and, importantly, will collaborate with our board to lead us toward the most effective execution of our mission.”

The late George P. Mitchell and Cynthia Woods Mitchell — dedicated philanthropists who committed to donating the majority of their wealth — incorporated the foundation in 1978. Since then, the couple and the foundation have distributed or pledged an estimated $750 million to a variety of causes. The Texas-centric foundation focuses on environmental protection, social equity and economic vibrancy issues. It tackles sustainability-related issues through its Clean Energy, Land Conservation, Shale Sustainability, Sustainability Education and Water Programs as well as operating the 6,000-acre Cook’s Branch Conservancy in Montgomery County. In 2019, the foundation formally added its Galveston Program to support improvements in George Mitchell's hometown.

Lorenz was named president of the CGMF in January 2011, but the foundation is working toward transitioning to an all-family board and a nonfamily staff. That plan has been in the works for several years, per the release.

“It has been an incredible honor to work with my family during this pivotal time in the life of the foundation,” Lorenz said in the release. “I look forward to working with our first nonfamily chief executive in helping to carry out my grandparent’s philanthropic legacy.”

George Mitchell died in July 2013 at the age of 94. His legacy includes founding The Woodlands-based Mitchell Energy & Development, which Oklahoma-based Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) acquired in 2002 for $3.5 billion. He also was behind the initial development of The Woodlands, a 27,000-acre master planned community north of Houston. In 2015, Lorenz told the Houston Business Journal that The Woodlands was her grandfather's proudest accomplishment.

"My grandfather was a true visionary in every sense of the word," Lorenz said at the time. "Until the day he died, he was still talking about what the world was going to be in 80 or 100 years out even knowing he wasn’t going to be a part of it. His ability to always think into the future and think, 'What are the possibilities?' and not 'What are the barriers?'"

Shortly after Lorenz's appointment in 2011, the foundation's grant-making programs staff moved to Austin, but the Mitchell Family Corp. office in The Woodlands continues to provide administrative support, a spokesman said.

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