Boston – The Boston Foundation has announced the retirement of James A. Pitts as Chief Investment Officer and Treasurer of the Foundation. Mr. Pitts joined the Foundation in 1996, serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Boston-based community Foundation. In that capacity, he was responsible for restructuring and reinvesting the endowment, which grew from $400 million to $650 million through a series of governance and investment strategy changes.
“I want to thank Jim Pitts for his extraordinary service and leadership at the helm of the Foundation’s financial and corporate management,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “Under Jim’s leadership, the Boston Foundation harmonized its investment policies and practices, including the development of an innovative policy and guidelines for proxy voting that has become a national model. We are very grateful for his tireless efforts during the eight years he served the Foundation.”
The Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, is the largest public charity in New England and in the top 100 public charities in the country. Making grants of almost $50 million per year, the Foundation is made up of 750 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community, or for special purposes. Its charitable assets are invested in The Fund for the 21st Century, a pool of investment management products, principally Boston-based, created specifically for the Foundation. Gail Snowden recently joined the Foundation as Vice President for Finance and Operations.
Mr. Pitts’ primary responsibilities at the Foundation have included managing the endowment, preparing financial statements, overseeing the accounting, taxes, cash and debt management, and the formulation and implementation of investment policy and executive compensation. He led a four-year effort aimed at restructuring the Foundation’s corporate legal framework and administration, resulting in an organization that is more streamlined, accountable, and financially healthy. He developed the Foundation’s $120 million private equity and real estate portfolio, both of which are now asset classes for the community foundation. Under Mr. Pitts’ leadership, the Boston Foundation became the first community foundation in the country to develop a policy to actively promote its values by exercising its right to proxy voting for its investments.
His retirement will provide him with an opportunity to spend more time with his family, on his motorcycle, and at his Lake Winnipesaukee residence, according to Mr. Pitts, as well as a chance to explore new opportunities for Board service. “I have always maintained an active commitment to community service, and would love to continue that pursuit. I also want to use my more than thirty years of management and governance experience to play a value-added role on the board of a publicly traded corporation, mutual fund, investment company, or private foundation.”
Prior to joining The Boston Foundation, Mr. Pitts served for 25 years as a senior financial officer in a number of publicly traded multinational corporations, including Clean Harbors, Inc., Cullinet Software, Inc., Data General Corporation, and Digital Equipment Corporation. In each of these companies he had successively wider responsibilities for financial statement preparation, internal audit, risk management, and compliance and regulatory affairs, including SEC reporting. From 1988 to 1991, Mr. Pitts also served as vice president and chief financial officer for Bain and Company, a privately held international strategic consulting firm.
In addition to his corporate responsibilities, Mr. Pitts participated on the boards of a number of nonprofit organizations. He served as a director for the Children’s Museum of Boston, the Harvard Business School Association of Boston, the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, Springfield Point Association, and West Hill Corporation. In addition, he was the acting chief financial officer with the office of the state-appointed Receiver for the City of Chelsea, Massachusetts; past chairman of finance, long range capital spending and committee on town administration for the Town of Sudbury, Massachusetts; and member and past president of the Area A Public Safety Committee of the Boston Police Department.
Mr. Pitts is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and its New England Chapter; the Financial Executives Institute; the American Institute of CPAs; the New York Society of CPAs; and former vice-chair of the Fiscal and Administrative Officers Group for Community Foundations. Mr. Pitts also served on the committee that set standards and best practices for 600 U.S. community foundations. He received his undergraduate accounting and graduate finance degrees from Niagara University and the University of Connecticut respectively; in addition, he is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program and the International Management Institute in Geneva.
Mr. Pitts’ service with the U.S. Army culminated in the rank of Colonel and included a tour of duty in Operation Desert Storm. He and his wife Noreen, who live on Beacon Hill in Boston, have three grown children.