Deborah Ellwood, a leader in the field of community foundations with close ties to Maine, has been named the next president and CEO of the Maine Community Foundation, or MaineCF.

Deborah Ellwood

A Bowdoin College graduate with family in Maine, Ellwood will be based in MaineCF’s Ellsworth office and begin serving in her new role at the end of June, the foundation said Tuesday in a news release.

Its previous president and CEO, Steve Rowe, retired last summer, and the group has been led in the meantime by interim President and CEO Sterling Speirn.

“I’ve always wanted to make my way back to Maine ever since I went to Bowdoin,” Ellwood said in an interview Tuesday. “I have family in Winter Harbor, so (I’m) really looking forward to it.”

For the past 12 years, Ellwood has led Boston-based CFLeads, a national network of community foundations that helps members strengthen their community leadership, share innovations and tackle key issues, according to its website.

Community foundations have really stepped up their philanthropic efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, Ellwood said. MaineCF is regarded as one of the best such groups in the country, she said, and her expertise is a good fit for the organization.


“Maine(CF) has a wonderful track record,” Ellwood said, “and I’m really eager to be part of an organization that’s seen a lot of success.”

Ellwood also has served as a board and staff leader at the Rochester Area Community Foundation in Rochester, New York, as well as a policy researcher and advocate at Children Now in California, the Center for the Study of the States in Albany, New York, and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“Deborah Ellwood is the right person to lead MaineCF with her national expertise and love of Maine,” Gregg Collins, chair of MaineCF’s board of directors, said in a statement. “This is an exciting time for the community foundation as we emerge from the pandemic and look to the future in partnership with donors and other community leaders.”

Based in Ellsworth, MaineCF is Maine’s second-largest foundation with assets of $775 million. Last year, the foundation awarded $58 million in grants and scholarships.

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