The Erie Community Foundation Board of Trustees Names New President of the Foundation

July 22, 2021


Karen Bilowith 2019

The Erie Community Foundation Board of Trustees is proud to announce the selection process for the new President of The Erie Community Foundation is complete. After careful consideration and an extensive local and national search with the assistance of Kittleman & Associates, Karen Bilowith will begin her tenure at the Foundation effective Friday, October 1, 2021.

“Ms. Bilowith is a proven and recognized leader with over 20 years of experience in philanthropic and nonprofit leadership. While the candidate pool was very strong and talented, Ms. Bilowith has an exceptional track record in leading community foundations to address shared issues through thoughtful philanthropy,” said Foundation Board Chair Dr. Don Baxter. “Karen is a proven and visionary executive-level leader. Her experience and talent will complement the strategic and transformational work of The Erie Community Foundation as well as introduce new ideas and best practices for continued growth.”

Ms. Bilowith is currently the President and CEO of the Idaho Community Foundation, which is a statewide public charitable foundation with more than $218 million in assets and 640 individual funds providing grants in every county in Idaho. Prior to joining the Idaho Community Foundation in 2016, Ms. Bilowith held the position of President and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region in Albany, New York. She also held an executive position with United Way of the Greater Capital Region also in upstate New York.

Ms. Bilowith serves on the boards of Philanthropy Northwest, the Idaho Nonprofit Center, Bogus Basin Recreational Association, the International Women’s Forum Idaho Chapter and is a member of Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation. Formerly, she was appointed to New York Governor Cuomo’s Capital Region Economic Development Council and the Saratoga-Capital District Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission. She was a founding board member of the Women’s Fund of the Capital Region and a member of the Forum for Executive Women. In 2020 she was recognized as a CEO of Influence award by the Idaho Business Review and in June 2013 received the Key4Women Achieve Award. Ms. Bilowith holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Boston College.

As the next leader of The Erie Community Foundation, Ms. Bilowith will join a rapidly growing, and widely respected, institution recognized as a key community leadership organization working collaboratively with others to transform the region.

In the past five years, the Foundation has averaged $21.3 million annually in new gifts and $19.9 million in annual grantmaking. Recently, the Foundation worked closely with corporate and civic leadership to raise $27 million in start-up funding to transform the downtown area, while also strengthening adjacent neighborhoods. It has led the effort to establish a community college, a center city Innovation District and the Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Erie, a $26 million medical research facility that represents a unique partnership of UPMC Hamot, a 423-bed hospital, and Penn State University, the Behrend Campus. Initiatives of The Erie Community Foundation includes Erie Vital Signs, the Nonprofit Partnership and Erie Gives, which will take place on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. Currently, the Foundation is home to over 850 endowments and scholarship funds valued at over $335M.

Susannah Weis Frigon, who is the Vice President of Philanthropic Services, will serve as Interim President of The Erie Community Foundation from July 1 through September 30, 2021.