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04/15/2009 07:00:00

Caltech Appoints VP for Development and Alumni Relations

PASADENA, Calif. -- The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has named Peter deCourcy Hero as its new vice president for development and alumni relations.

Hero, who was formerly senior advisor to the CEO and board of directors of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) in Mountain View, California, will start in early May. He is currently senior fellow at the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, where he teaches and is working on a book. He was recently appointed adjunct professor at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, where he has been a visiting lecturer, as well as an advisor to its community foundation.

"I am delighted that Peter will be joining the Institute community," said Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau." He has an impressive record of accomplishment, and we anticipate that his talent and experience will greatly enhance our fund-raising and alumni-relations efforts. He is an unusually skilled relationship builder who can motivate and enlarge a donor base."

Hero stated, "It is a distinct honor for me to be selected as the next Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at Caltech. I have long admired the institution and have closely followed its remarkable record of stunning research discoveries, accomplished graduates, and leading-edge thinking. I look forward to joining the Caltech family and to making its outreach/resource development strategies as high quality, high impact, and resoundingly successful as the education Caltech provides."

Charles Elachi, head of the search committee that included faculty, trustees, and members of the administration, said, "People who know Peter well describe him as an excellent leader--innovative, articulate, thoughtful, visionary, a great motivator, and an out-of-the-box thinker, all characteristics that matched very well with our own impressions of him."

"We looked carefully for someone whose outlook and record of accomplishment would be consistent with the high standards of the Caltech community. Peter brings unusual perspectives to the position, and I'm confident that he will work well with our faculty and with the Caltech leadership to help us develop the resources we need to meet our ambitious objectives," seconded David Tirrell, chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and a member of the search committee.

Before assuming his position with SVCF in 2007, Hero served from 1989 to 2006 as the president and CEO of the Community Foundation Silicon Valley (CFSV). In that role, he created and implemented a strategic plan that increased the foundation's assets from $8 million in 1988 to over $1.1 billion in 2006, and recruited such donors as eBay founder Jeff Skoll and Infoseek founder Steve Kirsch.

In a 2000 article, Fortune Magazine recognized Hero's skill at persuading such "tech moguls" to become philanthropists, calling him the man who "more than anyone else has shown Silicon Valley how to give."

Under Hero's leadership, CFSV awarded more than $500 million in the form of 40,000 charitable grants in Silicon Valley, the nation, and the world between 1996 and 2006, while simultaneously raising $1.3 billion in new contributions.
While heading up CFSV, Hero also created a for-profit subsidiary (now independent), Lenders for Community Development. This consortium of 20 regional banks has provided some $30 million in low-income housing and small business development loans since its inception. He also created SV2, the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, a philanthropic network of 200 investors.

In 2006, Hero managed the unprecedented merger of CFSV with the neighboring Peninsula Community Foundation, creating a new $1.7 billion entity--the Silicon Valley Community Foundation--that is now the fourth-largest community foundation in the nation.

Caltech trustee and search committee member Bill Davidow remarked, "In his years with the CFSV, Peter significantly grew foundation assets and created a large and enthusiastic donor base. Based on my years of working with him, I would say he is the perfect person to lead Caltech's development efforts." Added fellow trustee and search committee member Peter Kaufman, "Caltech is uniquely positioned to continue making discoveries that change the world. Peter Hero is superbly qualified to help the Institute spread that message, and we are delighted to have him join us."

Prior to his stint in Silicon Valley, Hero was president of Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine, where he tripled the institution's endowment and created the region's first graduate MFA degree program. From 1975 to 1984, he was director of the Oregon Arts Commission, collaborating with state government and the private sector on a strategic plan to use art and design to build stronger rural communities and to pass the first "Art in Public Places" legislation in the U.S.

Hero holds a BA, and an MA in Art History, from Williams College, and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He has served on a number of nonprofit boards, including those of the Public Broadcasting Service Foundation, the eBay Corporate Foundation, and the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford. In 1992 President George H.W. Bush appointed him to the National Council on the Arts, and in 2002 Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel chose him to serve on the Council of Advisors for the NATO Summit in Prague. He is the author of numerous publications, most recently "Local Mission, Global Vision: Community Foundations in the 21st Century," which has been translated into four languages.

In his new position, Hero will be the senior executive leading Caltech's institutional advancement efforts, creating and implementing strategies to elevate the Institute's profile with prospective donors and friends. He will lead Caltech's development and alumni activities and support the Associates, the Institute's premier group of benefactors and friends.

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Written by Jon Weiner