Erie Community Foundation names new president

Local News

There will soon be a new president of the Erie Community Foundation.

The Erie Community Foundation Board of Trustees announced Thursday they appointed a new president, Karen Bilowith.

Bilowith will begin her tenure as president of the Foundation on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.

“Ms. Bilowith is a proven and recognized leader with over 20 years of experience in philanthropic and nonprofit leadership. While the candidate pool was very strong and talented, Ms. Bilowith has an exceptional track record in leading community foundations to address shared issues through thoughtful philanthropy,” Foundation Board Chair Dr. Don Baxter stated in a release.  “Karen is a proven and visionary executive-level leader.  Her experience and talent will complement the strategic and transformational work of The Erie Community Foundation as well as introduce new ideas and best practices for continued growth.”

Bilowith is the current President and CEO of the Idaho Community Foundation, a public charitable foundation.

Prior to joining the Idaho Community Foundation in 2016, Bilowith served as President and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region in Albany, New York.  She also held an executive position with United Way of the Greater Capital Region also in upstate New York.

Bilowith serves on the boards of Philanthropy Northwest, the Idaho Nonprofit Center, Bogus Basin Recreational Association, the International Women’s Forum Idaho Chapter and is a member of Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation. 

Formerly, she was appointed to New York Governor Cuomo’s Capital Region Economic Development Council and the Saratoga-Capital District Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commission. She was a founding board member of the Women’s Fund of the Capital Region and a member of the Forum for Executive Women.

In 2020 she was recognized as a CEO of Influence award by the Idaho Business Review and in June 2013 received the Key4Women Achieve Award.

Bilowith holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Boston College.

Bilowith will soon join the Erie Community Foundation, which has averaged $21.3 million annually in new gifts and $19.9 million in annual grantmaking.

Recently, the Foundation worked closely with corporate and civic leadership to raise $27 million in start-up funding to transform the downtown area, while also strengthening adjacent neighborhoods.

It has led the effort to establish a community college, a center city Innovation District and the Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Erie, a $26 million medical research facility that represents a unique partnership of UPMC Hamot, a 423-bed hospital, and Penn State University, the Behrend Campus.

Initiatives of The Erie Community Foundation includes Erie Vital Signs, the Nonprofit Partnership and Erie Gives, which will take place on Tuesday, August 10, 2021. 

Currently, the Foundation is home to over 850 endowments and scholarship funds valued at over $335M.

Bilowith is taking the place of Mike Batchelor, who recently stepped down from his role as president of the Foundation.

Vice President of Philanthropic Services, Susannah Weis Frigon, will serve as Interim President of The Erie Community Foundation from July 1 through September 30, 2021.

Visit for more information on the Foundation.

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