December 9, 2020

New London, CT – The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut announced its slate of incoming officers and trustees at its premiere virtual Annual Celebration held on December 3rd.

Maryam Elahi, President & CEO of the Community Foundation, expressed appreciation for the expertise, dedication and diversity of experiences that each and every trustee brings to the table. In particular, she recognized Dr. David Schulz as “a stellar Chair of the Board for the last two years with a steady hand at the helm.” Elahi continued to state that the Community Foundation is deeply honored to have Dr. Lynn Malerba, Chief of the Mohegan Tribe, as its new Chair. Other officers of the board are Edwin Higgins III as Vice Chair, Nicholas Fortson as Treasurer, and Margaret O’Shea as Secretary. Attorney Higgins is Principal in the law firm Bachand, Longo & Higgins in Putnam; Mr. Fortson is President and CEO of CorePlus Credit Union based in Norwich; and Dr. O'Shea has been a longtime educator and child advocate in southeastern Connecticut. “With their deep sense of compassion and commitment to justice, each and every member of our board strengthens our ability to do better in serving the residents of our community,” said Elahi.

Chair Lynn Malerba welcomed new trustees Lee-Ann Gomes, Director of Norwich Human Services; Patrick Green, President & CEO of L+M Hospital; and Dr. Carol Williams, Retired Associate Dean at Eastern CT State University and recognized all trustees. Complete list of trustees.

As part of her annual message, Elahi reflected on the challenges and opportunities that we faced in 2020. She talked about the Neighbors for Neighbors Fund (NFN Fund) that was created at the Community Foundation to respond to the impact of the pandemic in Eastern Connecticut. Over 280 donors, including 12 institutional funders, gave over $1.2 million to the fund and became part of the Community Foundation’s “Circle of Kindness.” To date, the NFN Fund has awarded just under $1 million to 88 organizations in Eastern Connecticut to help address the pressing needs related to the impact of COVID-19. The Community Foundation is currently raising funds for its next donation challenge for the NFN Fund and plans to issue its third round of grantmaking in the first quarter of 2021. “We faced daunting challenges in 2020 and have demonstrated that we can persevere when we stand together. As we face the new year and anticipate the continuing impact of the pandemic in our community, we will be ready. We know that we can count on you,” said Elahi.

The program included highlights of summer youth programs that were supported by the Community Foundation’s grantmaking, a testimonial from longtime fundholder Dyanne Rafal, a reading by Connecticut’s former poet laureate Marilyn Nelson, and was capped by an inspirational musical performance by participants of the New London Talent Show.

In her closing message, Chair Malerba noted, “There are so many reasons to feel grateful and hopeful for the future, because we know that our donors understand why funding the strategic initiatives of this organization directly impacts our ability to live in a safe, healthy and just community. We are committed to ensuring our work keeps us on the path to achieving these goals.”

View the video of the Community Foundation’s 2020 Annual Celebration here.

About the Community Foundation
Serving 42 towns and comprised of 559 charitable funds, the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut puts philanthropy into action to address the needs, rights and interests of the region, focusing on four priority areas: empowering youth, promoting basic needs and rights, preserving the environment, and advancing animal welfare. The Foundation stewards net assets of over $103 million and has awarded over $69 million in grants and scholarships to nonprofits and students since its founding in 1983. To learn more, visit