Meyer Memorial Trust, Among Oregon’s Largest Philanthropies, Names New CEO

Michelle J. DePass, a dean at The New School and a former EPA assistant administrator, will succeed Doug Stamm.

Meyer Memorial Trust, one of Oregon's largest philanthropies, has named its new president and chief executive officer.

Michelle DePass, who current serves as dean at the New School's Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy in New York City, will succeed Doug Stamm, who has led the organization since 2002.

DePass previously served as an assistant administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  She has previous experience in philanthropic work as a program officer at the Ford Foundation.

"We are thrilled to welcome Michelle as the new CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust," said Meyer board chair Charles Wilhoite, in a statement. "We are confident that Michelle will uphold Meyer's values and mission of creating a more equitable Oregon, based on her strong background in public service, environmental policy and community development."

In the past 16 years, under Stamm's leadership, Meyer has undergone a transformation, focusing its grants on equity while engaging on so-called mission-related investing—where its investment portfolio went in part to projects that matched its philanthropic efforts.

Related: How a former Nike executive made Oregon philanthropy look a lot less white.

Stamm has also worked to diversify the staff and board of Meyer Memorial Trust. More than half of the staff now identify as people of color.

Naming an African-American woman to head the organization is a culmination of this work.

"Meyer Memorial Trust believes that everyone in Oregon deserves to live in a safe place, that the educational experience that we provide for our children will provide a world of opportunity, that the environment surrounding us should be a source of strength and richness, and that our communities sustain us with a sense of belonging and possibility, regardless of race or class," said DePass in a statement.

"For this to happen and make Oregon an equitable place, we must dismantle systemic oppression and have the discipline to ask ourselves over and over again: does this decision remove barriers or reinforce them? I am joining Meyer's dedicated board, committed staff and fellows and innovative grantees to remove those barriers. That is how we expand opportunity."

DePass will join Meyer Trust on April 30. Stamm will serve as her adviser for up to six months.

"Michelle is an extraordinary choice for Meyer Memorial Trust, a foundation deeply committed to innovation, risk-taking and equity," said Sharon Alpert, president of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, in a statement. "She is one of the foremost experts working at the intersection of environmental justice and community and economic development. Her passion and commitment to stand up for justice for the most under-served, and her collaborative and generous spirit, will create meaningful and lasting change for communities in Oregon and across the country."