Southeastern Council of Foundations Names Mike Howland as New CEO to Succeed Martin Lehfeldt

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The Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF), one of the nation's largest regional associations of grantmakers has chosen Michael Howland to succeed Martin Lehfeldt as president and CEO. SECF membership consists of more than 360 grantmaking organizations, from 11 Southeastern states with approximately $30 billion in philanthropic assets. Howland was CEO of Noble of Indiana, a $12 million, Indianapolis-based community organization serving people with developmental disabilities.

Mike Howland fit the profile to a 'T.'

Michael Howland has been chosen to succeed Martin Lehfeldt as president and CEO of the Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF), one of the nation's largest regional associations of grantmakers.

Howland currently serves as CEO of Noble of Indiana, an Indianapolis-based community organization that serves people with developmental disabilities through five locations. He has been with the $12 million organization since 2002. Prior to that, he was CEO of four associations in Springfield, Va., that raise funds on behalf of 162 diverse national charities.

Howland, 53, will assume his new duties in August. Lehfeldt, who has served since 1998, will continue as president and CEO until that time. He will remain as a senior advisor until formally retiring at the end of this year.

The appointment, coming after a five-month national search, was approved today by the SECF Board of Trustees.

"Martin Lehfeldt set a high standard in philanthropic leadership," said Debra M. Jacobs, chair-elect of the SECF and chair of a seven-member Search Committee that recommended Howland's appointment. Ms. Jacobs also serves as president of the William G. Selby and Marie Selby Foundation in Sarasota, Fla.

"We were looking for a strong manager with a passion for philanthropy - someone who could serve both our members and our sector," she said. "Mike Howland fit the profile to a 'T.'"

Peter Bird, chair of the SECF and president of The Frist Foundation in Nashville, described Howland as a multi-faceted leader with an impressive track record in both the public and independent sectors.

"Mike is a disciplined manager with terrific communications skills and a knack for revenue development," Bird said. "His wide array of experience will serve us well as he reaches out to serve the SECF's diverse constituency."

Howland holds advanced degrees from St. Louis University in both law and public administration. He did his undergraduate work at Jacksonville University (FL), and he was elected Student Government Association president at both schools, also serving as editor of the university newspaper while in Jacksonville.

Howland started his career as a Presidential management intern with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Beginning in 1986, he served as the SBA's San Francisco district director, overseeing SBA programs for 35 Northern California counties and leading it to become the No. 1 district in the nation. He later was appointed acting regional administrator under Presidents Bush and Clinton, where he oversaw SBA programs in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam and the Trust Territories.

While at the SBA, he received the prestigious Arthur S. Flemming Award for Outstanding Government Service under the age of 40.

From 1994 to 1996, Howland served as president and CEO of Independent Charities of America in San Francisco, overseeing operations for 12 associations and helping to increase the number of member organizations from 332 to 468.

In 1996, he joined Christian Service Charities in Springfield, Va., as its sole employee. Over the next six years, he facilitated an expansion of the organization into four associations with a staff of 12. At the same time, fundraising grew from $4 million to $21 million. The three new associations were Medical Research Charities, Human Service Charities of America, and Neighbor to Neighbor.

In 2002, Howland became president and CEO of Noble of Indiana, an organization offering innovative services to the disabled in community settings. With 200 employees, the organization serves 2,200 people with developmental disabilities and their families.

At Noble, he developed a reputation as a frank and open communicator, an innovative fundraiser, and a proponent of strong and engaged boards.

Outside the workplace, Howland serves as an adjunct professor at Indiana University, where his teaching focuses on nonprofit organizations, and is chairman of the Key Philanthropic Organizations Committee of the American Society of Association Executives. He is also a trustee at Jacksonville University, a director of Medical Research Charities, and an avid baseball fan and coach.

Howland and his wife Catherine have three children: Jim, a graduate of Indiana University; Christopher; and Madeline.

The Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) is a membership association of grantmaking foundations and giving programs that promotes excellence throughout the field of philanthropy and the creation of new philanthropic resources to benefit the region. SECF membership consists of more than 360 grantmaking organizations, from 11 Southeastern states with approximately $30 billion in philanthropic assets.

For more information, contact Helen M. Ishii, Director of Marketing & Communications at, 404-524-0911, or visit SECF's Web site at


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