A Farewell Message from Our President
February 17, 2023
Dear ECMC Foundation Community,
As I prepare to leave ECMC Foundation and mark the end of my professional career, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the many incredible people I have had the opportunity to work with over the years. The list of those who have impacted me is seemingly endless. From grantees to fellow philanthropic leaders and educators to policymakers and business professionals and my amazing team here at ECMC Foundation, I am the sum of my collective experiences with so many colleagues.
I think back over my multifaceted career and recognize that I was fortunate to assume a lot of responsibility at a young age. My time in Sacramento on the legislative staff of the California State Assembly Majority Leader taught me my first lessons about people and politics. I learned that above all else, to have a successful career, you must be adept at working with all different kinds of people―and I don’t just mean people from different backgrounds. Leaders must work well with happy people and angry people, visionaries and tacticians, the young and the more, shall we say, seasoned.
My time in investment banking and my experience as chief financial officer for the University of California taught me the importance of fiscal responsibility. I needed to know my numbers and where and how to allocate resources. If you want to know what an organization or institution cares about, look at its budget and financial statements. I learned that money is very emotional, especially in the world of education, where students’ futures are at stake. Developing paradigms and principles that impact spending decisions is not for the faint of heart. It can lead to great joy for those who benefit and terrible frustration for those who are asked to evolve and change their approach to doing their job.
The last stage of my career here at ECMC Foundation represents the culmination of all the lessons I learned along the way and has offered me the greatest privilege of all—the ability to drive systemic change and shape the lives of young people and the future of our country. This position has also given me an incredible vantage point where I get to see how institutions of higher education are responding to a society that is questioning their value. Not only did I get to see how they respond, but I’ve been able to help them react in ways that prioritize the types of students higher education was not set up to serve. The tide must change in favor of students of color as well as first-generation students, low-income populations and adult learners, or else we all will fail amidst an ever-changing economy.
Another benefit of working in this position through my later 50s and early 60s is the chance to mentor others, give back to my community and empower my team. Often, being able to support someone as they grow into leadership is more rewarding than calling the shots. At ECMC Foundation, I’ve also said that as an organization, we are committed to a culture of humility. We learn from our grantees, investees and partners and never claim to have all the answers.
As someone professionally and personally committed to lifelong learning, I’m now venturing into unchartered territory where priorities have shifted, and my trademark sense of urgency will transform into the satisfaction of enjoying one moment at a time and, perhaps, a little less structure. I will never stop learning, and I will continue to share what I have learned with others. I look forward to my board service with Fortune 100 companies and philanthropies where I can add value and stay focused on important goals and objectives. And more than anything, I look forward to spending more time with my family and friends who have been there every step of the way.
It is with tremendous appreciation that I say goodbye, and with just as much excitement for what’s to come under Jacob Fraire’s fine leadership.
Peter J. Taylor