CGMF appoints Randall Kempner new chief executive officer; Marilu Hastings to chief innovation and strategy officer

AUSTIN (February 12, 2020)—Randall Kempner will become the CEO of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation (CGMF) in August, succeeding Katherine Lorenz, the foundation’s board of directors announced today.

The appointment represents the first non-family chief executive as part of a long-planned transition strategy.

The Mitchell Foundation, with offices in Austin and The Woodlands, is a grantmaking foundation that seeks innovative, sustainable solutions for human and environmental problems. The foundation works as an engine of change in both policy and practice in Texas, supporting high-impact projects and practices at the nexus of environmental protection, social equity, and economic vibrancy.

“Randall brings a unique perspective earned from 25+ years as an entrepreneur, senior executive, and leader in innovative philanthropic ventures—and has a powerful and diverse ability,” Grant Mitchell, chair of the board of directors, said. “His engaging leadership style relies heavily on collaboration and partnership, and he is deeply committed to our mission.”

“Randall is passionate about the field of family philanthropy and deeply committed to high impact. He understands the complex issues at the core of our grantmaking programs, our grantees, and the political landscape of both Texas and the U.S.,” said Katherine Lorenz, outgoing president of the foundation. “I’m looking forward to working closely with Randall during the transition and collaborating with him as a member of our board as he leads us toward the most effective execution of our mission.”

A native of Galveston, Kempner is currently the executive director of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) at The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., where he manages a global network of nearly 300 organizations that propel entrepreneurship in emerging markets. His present focus is on promoting the critical role of small and growing businesses in driving job creation, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. He is a frequent author and public speaker on the topics of emerging market entrepreneurship, the development of regional entrepreneurial ecosystems, and impact investing.

Kempner graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with an MBA and a Master of Public Affairs. He earned his bachelor's degree in government from Harvard College.  

“I’m thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to lead the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation,” Kempner said. “I have great respect for the Mitchell family and their cutting-edge work in Texas and throughout the world. I have long admired both Cynthia and George Mitchell, particularly Mr. Mitchell’s entrepreneurial drive and his talent for developing innovative solutions to complex problems, particularly those that focus on environmental protection, social equity, and economic vibrancy.  

“As a fifth-generation Galvestonian, I’m excited to return home to Texas and eager to build on the foundation’s existing strategies, adding additional economic and social impact lenses to the foundation’s work. As we continue to grow, I intend to expand support for high-impact projects that take a systemic approach to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Texas and our world.”

Kempner’s appointment follows a national search that began in October 2019 after Lorenz announced that she would step down after nearly a decade of service. The transition has been in motion for several years and is on track with the foundation’s original plan: that CGMF would eventually have an all-family board and non-family staff.

Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer

In addition to Kempner’s appointment, the board also announced the appointment of Marilu Hastings as chief innovation and strategy officer (CISO). She is currently the vice president, sustainability programs at the Mitchell Foundation.  

As CISO, Hastings will serve as a strategic philanthropic advisor to the board, CEO, and program staff with the charge to take an entrepreneurial approach that complements the work of the foundation’s core programs and mission by identifying and seeding emergent, disruptive, and breakthrough sustainability solutions and opportunities. Externally, she will engage diverse partners and grantees to incubate and accelerate innovative sustainability programs and projects.

“Like George Mitchell’s groundbreaking legacy, the Mitchell Foundation plays a disruptive, change-making role in Texas and beyond. I’m excited to be part of the next chapter of the foundation’s growth, to continue to amplify the foundation’s impact, and to catalyze action to address persistent sustainability challenges in Texas.”

Hastings will also develop and support CGMF’s new Mitchell Innovation Lab and Philanthropy Accelerator, a varied portfolio of breakthrough sustainability ideas and opportunities that the foundation will develop, seed, and incubate. Using philanthropic investment as an accelerator for global change starting in Texas, the Lab will work in a multi-disciplinary, multi-sector context on complex sustainability issues, facilitating progress toward tangible results and solutions. 

“Thanks to the foresight and commitment of the Mitchell family, the Mitchell Innovation Lab and Philanthropy Accelerator will serve as a collaborative catalyst to explore new ideas and initiatives with leading thinkers and organizations engaged in issues critical to the future of Texas. I look forward to building on CGMF’s strong track record of developing and seeding strategic initiatives that balance economic opportunity and environmental protection for all Texans.”

The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation

Since its incorporation in 1978, the late George P. Mitchell and Cynthia Woods Mitchell and the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation have distributed or pledged an estimated $750 million in grants to myriad causes, programs, and institutions.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell were raised as children of meager means who, throughout their lives, believed in giving back to the community that made their success possible and lending a hand to the less fortunate struggling to reach their potential.

As their fortunes grew in their many entrepreneurial ventures, they shared a vision that the majority of the wealth that they had created would be dedicated to making the world a more hospitable and sustainable place. In 2010, Mr. Mitchell signed The Giving Pledge, an initiative created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, as a public commitment to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Mrs. Mitchell spent a lifetime supporting the arts, educational initiatives, and humanitarian issues that focus on the disadvantaged.

Mr. Mitchell was a renaissance businessman and entrepreneur known for his contributions to the economic revitalization of Galveston, his keen interest in science, and his passion for seeking sustainable solutions to complex problems. 



Additional information:
Brett Holmes
+1 (713) 244-4178




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