Paul S. Grogan

Former President & CEO

Paul Grogan

Paul S. Grogan was appointed President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, in 2001.  Under his leadership, the Foundation’s assets have doubled in size to more than $1.3 billion. In addition, grant making has soared to $150 million a year; in fact, $1.7 billion of the over $2.1 billion made in grants over the life of the Foundation were made during his tenure. The majority of these grants have benefited nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston.

Mr. Grogan also expanded the mission of the Boston Foundation to include a powerful civic leadership role. Through this work, the Foundation has commissioned and published cutting edge research into urban issues, held hundreds of public forums, formed task forces and coalitions, and informed and influenced legislative solutions to some of the city’s most intractable problems. Legislation passed through this work has leveraged more than $600 million in public funds for cultural facilities, K-12 public education, community colleges, municipal budgets and smart growth housing. The model created by Mr. Grogan has inspired a large number of community foundations nationwide to add civic leadership to their missions.

During Mr. Grogan’s tenure, the Foundation has also launched a number of high-impact initiatives, such as Success Boston, which has raised college completion rates for Boston Public Schools graduates by 77 percent. Other examples include the youth violence prevention model StreetSafe Boston, Project Catapult, which represents the next generation of workforce development, and the Boston Opportunity Agenda, a historic public/private partnership of the Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, the Boston Public Schools, the city’s other leading public charities and many local foundations. The Foundation also played a pivotal role in informing and passing sweeping criminal justice reform in Massachusetts, which has rolled back the inequitable and ineffective “get tough” criminal justice policies of the 1980s and 1990s.

Prior to his work with the Boston Foundation, Mr. Grogan served as Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs at Harvard University and as a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School.  During his time at Harvard, he spearheaded efforts that led the university to make unprecedented investments in the community, including $21 million for affordable housing and $5 million for the Harvard After-School Initiative.  He also transformed the University’s previously poor relationship with the City of Boston, paving the way for Harvard to double its property holdings in the Allston neighborhood. 

From 1986 through 1998, Mr. Grogan was President and CEO of the nonprofit organization Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation’s largest community development intermediary.  During his tenure, LISC raised and invested more than $3 billion in private capital to inner-city revitalization efforts across America. LISC also made vital contributions to a string of national policy successes, including the creation of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the establishment of the HOME program, the strengthening of the Community Reinvestment Act and the creation of the New Markets Tax Credit. Nicholas Lemann, noted author and Dean Emeritus of the Columbia School of Journalism, has written: “Paul Grogan is one of the heroes of the community development movement.”

Mr. Grogan’s passion for cities is rooted in his experiences in Boston where he served Mayors Kevin H. White and Raymond L. Flynn in a variety of positions.  He headed Boston’s neighborhood revitalization efforts in the early 1980s, helping to pioneer a series of public/private ventures that have been widely replicated by other cities.  These included the Boston Housing Partnership and the Boston Compact, a groundbreaking partnership between the city’s corporate community and the city’s public school system.

Mr. Grogan graduated with honors in American History from Williams College in 1972 and holds a Master’s degree in Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  In 1997, Williams College awarded Mr. Grogan the Bicentennial Medal for his leadership in inner-city revitalization efforts. He is also the recipient of five honorary degrees, has been recognized four times by The NonProfit Times through its annual “Power & Influence Top 50” list from 2013 to 2016, and was named one of America’s Top 25 “Disruptive Leaders” by Living Cities in 2016. Mr. Grogan is a founder and director of The Community Development Trust, the nation’s first real estate investment trust dedicated to affordable housing and has been a trustee of Williams College and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 

In 2000, Mr. Grogan, and writer and nonprofit consultant Tony Proscio, co-authored the book Comeback Cities, which syndicated columnist Ron Brownstein wrote is “arguably the most important and insightful book on the American city in a generation.”