Power List Q&A: The Boston Foundation Chair Sandy Edgerley

Sandy Edgerley, chair of the Boston Foundation, on finding a new foundation president and CEO and the future of the Algonquin Club.

Photo illustration by Joe McKendry

Shaping the thinking of every policymaker in the region from her perch as chair of this influential charitable foundation, Edgerley is in charge of the biggest job search in town: replacing former president and CEO Paul Grogan. But that’s just one item on her turbocharged to-do list: In 2018, Edgerley purchased the stuffy old Algonquin Club on Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay with the goal of transforming it into a fresh gathering place for the power brokers of tomorrow.

This city is home to so many talented people. How do you use that to your advantage at the Boston Foundation?

We are so fortunate to have world-class industries based here, whether it’s higher education, the nonprofit sector, biotech, life sciences, hospitals, finance, arts, even sports teams. Where do we cross-pollinate, or exchange ideas? The Boston Foundation is one place that happens. I’ve always been very interested in convening and bringing together a diverse group of people to work toward a common goal.

How has the Boston Foundation responded to the coronavirus crisis?

Almost immediately we formed and seeded a COVID-19 Relief Fund, in support of the nonprofits that serve the places most affected. There are just so many of them that are struggling to serve communities in distress. There may be some changes in priorities that come as a result of this; I think it’s still too early to tell.

Paul Grogan has announced that he will step down as president and CEO after nearly two decades as the face of the Boston Foundation. What are you looking for in a new leader?

Paul Grogan has not only transformed the Boston Foundation and the role the foundation plays within the city, but has also innovated a civic leadership model for community foundations across the country. He has built an incredible team, so he’s leaving it in really good hands. We’re still very early in the search process for his successor, but it’s a great opportunity that’s generating quite a lot of interest among a really strong pool of candidates. With any new leader, there’s an opportunity to have his or her own imprint. I don’t know the answer, but it’s exciting—the future has so much potential.

Speaking of the future, the Algonquin Club makeover that you’re working on seems like another way to bring people together in the years to come. What can you tell me about that?

We’re relaunching it as the Quin. Our target date has always been December 2020, although that’s likely to be delayed to spring of 2021. The aspiration that my husband, VantEdge Partners managing director Paul Edgerley, and I have for the Quin is that it will be a gathering place across generations, sectors, ethnicities, and points of view. It’s sort of funny, launching a social club when there is a pandemic forcing us all to be more physically distant. But I think it is just reminding us of the importance of connecting.

Back to the Power List