Bensen named president of Kenan Funds

By Todd Cohen

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Mark Bensen, the former executive vice president of Durham-based think-tank MDC Inc. who served for less than two months last year as president and CEO of Triangle Community Foundation in Durham before his abrupt departure, has been named president of The William R. Kenan Jr. Funds in Chapel Hill.

Bensen previously served as executive director of the Lucy Daniels Foundation in Cary and associate director of the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science at N.C. State University in Raleigh.

Supported by The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust in Chapel Hill, the Kenan Funds support the Kenan Institute at N.C. State, as well as Kenan Institutes at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the UNC School of the Arts, and Duke University that focus, respectively on private enterprise, the arts and ethics.

In fiscal 2011, the most recent year for which 990 tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service are available at the Foundation Center, assets of the four Kenan Funds totaled over $125 million.

New CEO leaves Triangle Community Foundation

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — The new president and CEO at Triangle Community Foundation has quit after less than two months on the job, and the former board chair who had served as interim CEO has returned in that role.

The Foundation’s board of directors on Oct. 4 accepted the resignation, effective immediately, of Mark Bensen, who had joined the Foundation on Aug. 13 after serving as executive vice president of MDC, a Durham-based think-tank on economic and workforce development.

Phail Wynn Jr., vice president for Durham and regional affairs at Duke University, who had served on a pro-bono, part-time basis as interim president and CEO since the equally abrupt departure last year of Andrea Bazan as chief executive, has agreed to return as interim president and CEO on a temporary, pro-bono basis.

“Early on, both the board and Mark realized they had widely divergent visions for the Foundation, both in terms of strategy and implementation,” Richard B. Guirlinger, the board’s chair, says in a letter distributed this afternoon to fundholders and friends of the foundation.

“After careful and extensive deliberation,” the letter says, the board “determined that it was in the  best interests of the Foundation to accept Mark’s resignation. We appreciate Mark’s brief tenure with us and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Guirlinger says in a statement that Wynn’s “devotion to TCF will ensure that we will continue to serve the public, the nonprofit community, and the fund holders who place their trust in our organization to fulfill their philanthropic goals.”

Before joining Duke, Wynn served for 28 years as president of Durham Technical Community College.

Lori O’Keefe continues to serve as vice president for philanthropic services and chief operating officer.

Guided by Wynn, a former Foundation board chair, and by the Foundation’s senior management team, Guirlinger’s letter says, revenues in the fiscal year ended June 30 grew 36 percent,  grantmaking and programs continued to support the community, and the Foundation successfully completed and implemented a new strategic plan.

The foundation manages $146 million in funds established by families, businesses, individuals, and organizations, makes grants from those funds to nonprofits, and administers a variety of programs to benefit the community.

That includes over 750 funds that range in size from $10,000 to $10 million, mainly for the benefit of Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties.

In the most recent fiscal year, the foundation granted over $13 million to nonprofits, schools and community efforts.

Bensen, who was hired following a national search conducted by Jorgenson Consulting in Greensboro, previously had managed MDC’s daily operations, including its financial, human resources, and information-technology functions, and played a key role in developing and implementing short and long-range strategic planning.

In mid-July 2011, six weeks after Bazan was given an immediate, “indefinite” paid sabbatical, the foundation announced she would not be returning.

Bazan recently joined United Way of Metropolitan Chicago as senior vice president of resource development after serving as the Chicago-based national operation vote regional director for President Obama’s reelection campaign.