An integral part of the Ann Arbor Community Foundation’s mission is to enrich “the quality of life in our region through knowledgeable leadership, engaged grantmaking, and creative partnerships.” Neel Hajra, current chief operating officer and vice president for Community Investment and soon-to-be president and CEO, shared his thoughts on the agency’s role in the community and his personal investment in the work that the Ann Arbor Community Foundation conducts.
Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Neel is currently raising his own family in his hometown. He earned both an undergraduate and law degree from the University of Michigan. “What keeps me going is playing a role in what keeps the community great and not just for fortunate folks.”
Neel officially began his position as president and CEO at the beginning of 2015. His role has contained two major functions, managing the day to day operations such as the foundation’s financial and human resources departments, and overseeing the foundation’s grantmaking procedures. His aim is to help the AACF create “maximum impact in the community.”
The foundation provides many grants geared toward children and families. Additionally, a unique service provided is a youth council, which is a group of high schoolers from Ann Arbor schools, who interview nonprofits, read applications, and help make decisions about where grant funding is allotted. Neel said that it really reflects “youth empowerment” and shows how much the foundation supports youth. Additionally, there is a group of young families, called the “Giving Circle,” who raise funds and decide how to provide grants to nonprofits in the community.
“It’s pretty great to interact with so many people who care about working with the community,” said Neel. Speaking about previous president and CEO, Cheryl Elliott, he said, “She was well-respected and helped the agency grow and succeed. We’ve been really strong and really successful under Cheryl’s leadership.” Neel presented his view of his leadership position and stated that the question that he is determined to pursue is “How do we keep the success going and expand on our impact in the community?”
The Ann Arbor Community Foundation has been in service for 51 years and has expanded its services to assist the Greater Ann Arbor area, Washtenaw, and Plymouth County areas.
Ann Arbor Community Foundation, 301 N. Main St., Suite 300. 734-663-0401. For more information, visit www.aaacf.org.