New CEO is a familiar face at Foundation

Leadership changes at any organization are often exciting times filled with a unique blend of anticipation, optimism and fear.

For those who have been aware that the Foundation was searching for a new leader, the BIG question of who that person will be was answered this week.

Bill Wyman, lifelong resident of Oshkosh, has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

Bill is a familiar face at the Foundation. He served as our Interim President and CEO in 2012-13. His tenure on the Board of Directors (1997-2007) included leadership during the $7 million fundraising effort to build Pollock Community Water Park.

During his stint as Interim President and CEO, Bill’s easy-going personality and deep knowledge of the community and the Foundation softened the absence of Eileen Connolly-Keesler, the Foundation’s leader for the previous 13 years. Eileen lead the Foundation through a period of enormous growth which saw assets rise from $22 million to more than $77 million, funds grow from 80 to more than 650 and the completion of major projects including the construction of Leach Amphitheater, the water park, the convention center renovation and the revitalization of the downtown hotel.

As Chair of OACF’s Board of Directors, Bill Wyman provided leadership for a major fundraising campaign to build Pollock Community Water Park. Here he is pictured in 2007 with former President and CEO Eileen Connolly-Keesler.

(Eileen is doing great, by the way, as President and CEO of the Community Foundation for Collier County in Naples, Fla. Read about her current work in this article.)

Bill knows the Foundation from all sides — as a corporate partner back when he was senior executive at Oshkosh B’Gosh (1981-2005), as a donor (he and his wife Beth actively support causes through their donor advised fund), as a community volunteer and agency advocate (Greater Oshkosh Healthy Neighborhoods Inc. and Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corp.), and as a board and staff member.

Nearly 800 people spilled out of the ballroom into the hallways and lobby of the Best Western Premiere Waterfront Hotel in 2013 for the Foundation’s gala celebrating donors. It was the first event at the newly renovated, not-yet-open downtown hotel.

At the Foundation’s 85th anniversary gala in 2013, Bill showed that he can handle the spotlight with humor and professionalism. Speaking to a crowd of nearly 800 people at the first event at the then-brand-spanking new Best Western Premiere Waterfront Hotel in downtown Oshkosh, Bill doled out plenty of praise to our founders (who, in 1928, saw fit to create the Foundation as vehicle to support the future needs of the community), to the staff, board, committees and donors who have supported the Foundation’s efforts over the years.

This is par for the course for Bill as a person who likes to give credit rather than take credit.

The highly competitive search, which began in January, attracted more than 100 applicants. The Foundation’s Board of Directors believes Bill’s passion for the community is well-suited to help guide the Foundation’s mission and vision into the future. He will start work on April 11. Until then and for a brief transition period thereafter, we continue to be guided by the expertise of Burk Tower (former Oshkosh mayor and retired University of Wisconsin Oshkosh faculty member and administrator).

We invite your thoughts on this leadership shift. Email us or comment below!

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