Carol Goss to retire at end of 2013; Tonya Allen named successor


DETROIT – Carol Goss, president & chief executive officer of The Skillman Foundation, today announced she is retiring from her post, effective at the end of 2013. Tonya Allen, chief operating officer and vice president of program for the Foundation, has been named president & CEO by the Skillman Foundation Board of Trustees, effective January 1, 2014.

While accepting the planned resignation, the Board applauded the exemplary accomplishments of Goss during her decade of service as CEO.

Carol Goss has led the Skillman Board and staff on a remarkable journey during her tenure to redefine the role of the Foundation in improving the lives of Detroit’s most vulnerable children,” said David Baker Lewis, chairman of the Board of Trustees. "Carol’s trailblazing vision of a foundation becoming a strategic funding partner in improving the conditions that effect the lives of children has become a reality in Detroit and the nation, through the force of her vision and her ability to persuade others to take up the cause. There is no clearer example of this vision than her groundbreaking work on education reform in Detroit.”

VIDEO:  See Carol Goss announce her retirement

Under her tenure, the Foundation launched dramatic new strategic philanthropy initiatives involving education reform and neighborhood support for children, focused on measurable change in Detroit. Goss shepherded the Foundation from a traditional and responsive grantmaking organization into a proactive organization that takes on the toughest issues facing children, while mobilizing stakeholders throughout the city to establish initiatives such as Excellent Schools Detroit. She used the Foundation’s reputation to galvanize others to commit to a broad and achievable agenda for children.

The Skillman Foundation's work and leadership has influenced organized philanthropy nationally, and has served as a model for strategic and embedded philanthropy. Locally, Crain's Detroit Business cited Goss as one of Southeast Michigan's Most Influential Women. She received the Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award, given by the Detroit Free Press and the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition. Goss was named the 2007 James A. Joseph Lecturer by the Association of Black Foundation Executives.

“It has been an honor serving the most vulnerable in Detroit through our mission here at The Skillman Foundation,” Goss said. “The support of the Board and staff has been extraordinary. Together, we have changed philanthropy in the region by focusing on children first, while giving voice to those living in neighborhoods – rather than just focusing on systems and governance. Tonya Allen has been the architect of our strategies,” Goss added. “She is an exceptional leader, and is probably the smartest person I know in this work."

Allen joined the Foundation in 2004, and has been COO of the Foundation since 2010. She developed the Foundation’s 10-year $100-million Good Neighborhoods program, and currently oversees the Foundation’s main programs, communications and technology operations, as well as talent development.

Chairman Lewis said, “Tonya has earned the respect and support of the Board to take on the role of CEO of the Foundation through her thoughtful work for children, her passion for making a difference in their lives, and her skill in program development, execution, management and evaluation. The Board, staff and community are extraordinarily fortunate to have Tonya succeed Carol.”

A native Detroiter, Allen has a bachelor’s degree in sociology, and master’s degrees in social work and public health, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She was one of 44 emerging American leaders who received the prestigious Marshall Memorial Fellowship for 2011. Allen has previously served in positions at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Thompson Foundation, and the Detroit Parent Network.

“I'm privileged that Carol and the Board have faith in my leadership,” Allen said. “I know I'll be a better leader because I've watched Carol’s extraordinary grace and integrity as she’s pressed for positive change on behalf of children in the city. I'm grateful to be partnering with her during 2013 as we complete our strategic planning process for the coming years. As a result, we'll have a seamless transition with a common vision.”

The Board will use the 2013 transition period to review the Foundation’s recent accomplishments and to incorporate Tonya Allen’s vision of the Foundation’s future, engaging Skillman partners and others in the community in the process, in addition to celebrating the achievements of Carol Goss during the latter part of the year.

Created in 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private grant-making organization whose chief aim is to help develop good schools and good neighborhoods for children. The Foundation currently has assets of about $430 million, with an annual grants budget of about $17 million. Though grants are made throughout Detroit, most are directed at six Detroit neighborhoods – Southwest Detroit, Chadsey Condon, Brightmoor, Osborn, Northend Central and Cody Rouge – and toward innovative and successful schools throughout the city.

Contact: William Hanson, director of communications & technology, 313-393-1163,