The San Antonio Area Foundation announced Monday that its CEO Dennis Noll will retire at the end of this year, after more than six years of service to the community foundation.

The board of directors will conduct a national search for a new CEO as Noll begins to transition from CEO to special advisor. A new leader is expected to take the foundation through a strategic planning process.

“It has truly been my honor to spend the last six years with the team here at the foundation, and we’ve done significant amounts of good in San Antonio,” Noll told the Rivard Report. “That really doesn’t reflect on me, it reflects on the fact we have a superb team here, and it’s simply been an honor to serve with them.”

Under Noll’s leadership, the Area Foundation has more than tripled in size, from managing $211 million in assets in 2011 to $900 million in assets in 2017. The substantial growth was due in part to a 2015 gift from the late John L. Santikos, a local entrepreneur, real estate developer, and movie theater businessman. Santikos left the bulk of his estate – appraised at $605 million – to the Area Foundation, the largest single charitable donation in the history of San Antonio, and in the United States that year.

Since then, Noll has served as chairman of the board of Santikos Enterprises, which operates as a for-profit entertainment business that funnels revenues back into the community in the form of grants and sponsorships administered by the Area Foundation. Santikos Enterprises is a division of Santikos Entertainment. Noll said he will continue in this role following his retirement from the Area Foundation.

Named CEO in 2011 following Clarence R. “Reggie” Williams’ retirement the same year, Noll had previously served as an executive and general counsel at Kinetic Concepts, Inc., now known as Acelity.

Noll’s decision to retire from the Area Foundation came about for several reasons, he explained. “To be brutally honest, it was driven a lot by health,” he said, adding that he also wants to spend more time with family. “But Jan. 1 is when we will have completed the Santikos transition, so all of the assets will be under Santikos Enterprises, which is a major capstone to my work …. On Dec. 31, we will have put a bow on [John L.] Santikos’ legacy, and I did want to see that through.”

Noll said he also felt it was more appropriate to step down now as the organization works toward developing a future strategic plan.

“We want to thank Dennis for his years of service and leadership,” Area Foundation Board Chair John Hayes stated. “He has been instrumental in growing the Area Foundation and building our network of donors and volunteers. His work will have a lasting impact on San Antonio for years to come.”

In February, the Area Foundation named Rebecca Brune president and chief operating officer. Brune previously worked in strategic planning for Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Goodwill Industries, and United Way. She oversees day-to-day operations at the Area Foundation and will provide additional leadership support during the transition.

In addition to Brune’s appointment, the organization has recently filled other key leadership positions. Lisa Brunsvold has been named the foundation’s vice president for development and donor services. She has previous experience at The DoSeum, Goodwill Industries, and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Lynda Cabell joined the foundation as chief financial officer in April. Cabell is a former senior vice president at USAA and has provided financial oversight to various area nonprofit organizations.

“We are grateful to Dennis for putting a fantastic leadership team in place and we are confident we’ve got the right people in the right jobs,” Hayes stated. “We’ll be looking for a dynamic CEO to complete the team and help the foundation grow, diversify and do even more to serve our community.”

Last year, the Area Foundation “distributed more than $50 million in grants to nearly 750 nonprofit organizations, awarded 725 scholarships to 651 students – totaling $3.3 million – and provided 3,134 nonprofit participants with training programs,” according to the press release.

In the Area Foundation’s 53-year history, it has distributed a total of $358 million in grants and scholarships throughout the San Antonio region.

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.