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Educational Foundation leader steps down

Board member takes over on an interim basis amid fundraising drive.

April 14, 2012|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com

The leader of the La Cañada Educational Foundation stepped down this week, just as the nonprofit goes into the home stretch of its annual $2-million fundraising drive.

Lindsay McGregor, executive director of the foundation for the last five years, has taken the job of development director for the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. On Monday, educational foundation board member Deborah Weirick stepped into McGregor's former job on an interim basis.

McGregor said she was most proud of seeing the foundation provide funding for summer school when it appeared La Cañada Unified School District could not because of budget shortfalls.

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“To take something from scratch and get it off the ground successfully last year was quite the accomplishment,” she said.

The foundation also supports class-size reduction from kindergarten through third grade and for ninth-grade English and math courses, guidance counselors at each school, a college counselor at La Cañada High School and more.

While the foundation is on pace to meet the year’s fundraising goal, McGregor said there is always work to be done encouraging the community as a whole to support the schools.

“We’ve been doing well the last few years in the dollars, but it’s a continuous struggle still just trying to get everyone to support the schools,” she said. “All the students effectively get the benefit of the foundation.”

Weirick, who has served on the foundation’s board for six years and holds a master’s degree in nonprofit administration, said she will fill the position until July or August. By then the organization hopes to name a new executive director.

“There was really no means by which we could launch an effective search given that we’re in the full swing of fundraising right now,” Weirick said.

Once the foundation finishes its yearly fundraising with a spring mail campaign launching this week and a phone campaign to follow, the foundation’s board and executive committee will begin a search for a permanent replacement.

Weirick said she believes the organization can use the change to its advantage by evaluating the best practices of educational foundations in cities such as San Marino and Manhattan Beach, then applying those lessons to La Cañada.

“It’s been five years since Lindsay started here, and I think it’s good to stay apprised of what like-minded organizations are doing in terms of organizational structure … and from there craft a position description and then do a search,” she said.

The foundation raised just under $1 million the year McGregor started as executive director, Weirick said.

McGregor said she felt confident that the foundation would continue to reach its goals in her absence.

“It’s nice to be able to leave it in Deborah’s hands because I know she’ll do a phenomenal job,” she said. “Oftentimes leaving these positions there is a break in consistency when they’re looking for someone new, but Deborah is a great person for the interim role, and she’ll keep them moving forward.”

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