The Gund Foundation taps Anthony Richardson to replace retiring Dave Abbott as president
Updated: 1:08 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021
Anthony Richardson, executive director of the Nord Family Foundation in Amherst, has been tapped to lead the George Gund Foundation in Cleveland. He succeeds Dave Abbott, who is retiring after 19 years as president.
Richardson, 38, will take the helm in January.
A Lorain native, Richardson served on the Lorain City Council for three years and was chairman of the Lorain Academic Distress Commission from 2017 to 2019.
In a conversation with Ideastream Public Media, Abbott called Richardson a “visionary and an imaginative young man” who will take the Gund Foundation in new directions “I can’t predict,” while maintaining the focus the organization has always had on Cleveland.
“Through Cleveland, look at the issues that the world faces and how we can contribute to solving them effectively,” Abbot said. “They’re issues like climate change and racial injustice and threats to democracy that we all need to be focused on, and I know Tony [Richardson] will push the foundation in pursuit of those and probably others.”
In an announcement on the foundation's web site, the president of the Gund Foundation board, Catherine Gund, said, "His lived experience will deepen our understanding of the issues we confront. I have no doubt that he is the right person for the vibrant and challenging moment we face at the Foundation, in the city of Cleveland, and nationwide."
That lived experience includes living in poverty and experiencing homelessness as a child. Richardson attended Oberlin College and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University.
Margaret Bernstein, a Gund Foundation trustee and member of the search committee for for the new president, said in a press release, “Tony, a 38-year-old African-American man with a career of advocating for racial equity, brings an extraordinary set of skills to the Gund Foundation. He will be a transformative leader.”
Gund Foundation Trustee Nancy Mendez said, “Tony represents the promise that an individual’s intelligence, drive, and passion can determine one’s leadership capacity regardless of where they are born, their race, or their family’s income."
Richardson said the Gund Foundation is the right fit.
“My personal and professional values align perfectly with the Gund Foundation’s values," he said in the release. "I’m extremely proud to be joining a foundation that is committed to tackling climate change, understanding and unraveling systemic racism, and supporting those who are fighting to fulfill the promise of democracy."
Abbott — a former Rock Hall exectuive director and president of University Circle, Inc. — will leave his post at Gund at year's end. He was honored Tuesday night at a retirement sendoff at the Rock Hall.
As part of the celebration, which featured prominent members of the city's political, business and philanthropic communities, Catherine Gund announced a $5 million gift to cover room and board for any Cleveland Metropolitan School District graduate who attends Cleveland State University as part of the Say Yes to Education college tuition guarantee. That program covers tuition for graduates of CMSD, but not living expenses.
Reflecting on the 19 years he served as the foundation’s president, Abbott said he was grateful for the opportunity to be more intimately involved in the lives of Clevelanders. Specifically, he was most proud of starting a fellowship program at the Gund Foundation.
“Each year we would have a new fellow join us so we always have two. And it's a two year program, and those folks have gone on to do great things in Cleveland, and they will for many decades to come,” Abbott said. “So, being able to help young people start and advance their careers is something I've always tried to do.”
After his retirement at the end of this year, Abbott will become the inaugural Distringuished Jurist in Residence at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He earned his law degree at Harvard University.