Koya Leadership Partners Leads the Search for Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s First President & CEO

Placed Leaders

Koya Leadership Partners Leads the Search for Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s First President & CEO

Koya Leadership Partners is delighted to be partnering with The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation on the search for its first President & CEO.

To learn more or express your interest in this role, please click on the following link: The Ralph C.Wilson, Jr. Foundation President & CEO.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                    CONTACT:

Tony Zagara

(314) 982-7747



The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., Foundation Announces Partner Institutions

July 29, 2015 – The Trustees of The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., Foundation today announced the partner institutions that have advised in the establishment of the organizational processes and that will provide important support as the Foundation carries out its mission. As previously announced, the $1.2 billion in capital received from the late Mr. Wilson’s irrevocable trust, plus related investment income, is to be distributed to eligible nonprofits over the course of 20 years, at the behest of Mr. Wilson.

The Trustees have elected to employ an outsourced CIO (chief investment officer) model to invest and manage the assets of the foundation pending their distribution to eligible grantees. Following an extensive selection process the trustees have engaged three firms, with each firm acting independently as a fiduciary and managing a separate pool of the foundation’s assets. Those firms are: J.P. Morgan, The Northern Trust Company and Graystone Consulting, a business of Morgan Stanley.

The development of the Foundation’s mission statement was aided by consultants from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. These same consultants are presently engaged in the formulation of specific strategies designed to accomplish the goals set forth in the mission statement.

To aid the Trustees, and their eventual staff, in the development of grant procedures, the performance of grantee due diligence and in post grant contract compliance work, the Foundation has engaged J.P. Morgan’s Philanthropy Centre and Private Foundations Service team.

To achieve local insight and to make connections with other regional grant makers, the Trustees sought and continue to receive valuable counsel from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Finally, Koya Leadership Partners has been employed by the Foundation to assist in the recruitment of a President for the Foundation.

“We are mindful of the short life of the Foundation and do not take lightly the trust that Ralph placed in us to be stewards of this part of his legacy,” said Mary M. Wilson, wife of the late Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. “It is the short window we have to work with and the magnitude of this responsibility that has led us to select each of our partner institutions after thoughtful due diligence. We are confident that these partners will help us establish and guide the Foundation to make a lasting and sizable impact that is fitting of the great man who made it all possible.”

The Foundation, last week, released its mission statement, outlining the organization’s intention to invest primarily in the improvement of the quality of life of the people of Western New York and Southeastern Michigan, two regions near and dear to Mr. Wilson’s heart throughout the course of his life.


Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Mission Statement (see below).

For more about the legacy of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. please visit:



About the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, a 501(c)(3) organization, was established in 1919 to enhance and encourage long-term philanthropy in Western New York. The Community Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. For over 95 years the Community Foundation has made the most of the generosity of individuals, families, foundations and organizations who entrust charitable assets to the Community Foundation’s care. www.cfgb.org

About the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $700 million through more than 52,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties. For more information, please visit www.cfsem.org.

About Graystone Consulting

Graystone Consulting, a business of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, provides a broad range of investment consulting services to institutional clients, which include corporations, endowments and foundations, health care organizations, insurance entities, state and local governments, Taft-Hartley funds and family offices. Tailored investment advice is delivered by experienced investment professionals led by Institutional Consulting Directors, who are backed by dedicated teams of institutional consultants and the broad resources of Morgan Stanley. For further information, please visit www.morganstanley.com/graystoneconsulting.

About J.P. Morgan Private Bank

J.P. Morgan is a global leader in financial services to corporations, governments, for-profit and not-for-profit institutions and wealthy individuals. Through the Private Bank at J.P. Morgan, the firm delivers customized wealth management advice and solutions to wealthy individuals and their families, leveraging its broad capabilities in investing, family office management, philanthropy, credit, fiduciary services and special advisory services to help its clients advance toward their own particular goals. For more than 150 years, the Private Bank’s comprehensive and integrated product offering, commitment to innovation and integrity, and focus on placing the interests of its clients first and foremost have made J.P. Morgan an advisor of choice to people of significant wealth around the world.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a national executive search and human capital consulting firm dedicated to the nonprofit sector. Koya works with a select group of national and regional nonprofit clients across the country to fill their most critical and challenging leadership roles and to develop and implement transformational human capital strategies. Koya has been conducting executive searches since 2004 and built an extensive network of proven and emerging leaders. Using an effective and efficient research and outreach methodology, Koya delivers exceptional candidates who offer the right combination of skills and culture fit for our clients. At Koya, they understand the right person is the essential element that can transform an organization.For more information, please visit www.koyapartners.com

About Northern Trust

Northern Trust Corporation (Nasdaq: NTRS) is a leading provider of wealth management, asset servicing, asset management and banking to corporations, institutions, affluent families and individuals. Founded in Chicago in 1889, Northern Trust has offices in the United States in 19 states and Washington, D.C., and 20 international locations in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. As of June 30, 2015, Northern Trust had assets under custody of US$6.2 trillion, and assets under management of US$946 billion. For 125 years, Northern Trust has earned distinction as an industry leader for exceptional service, financial expertise, integrity and innovation. Visit northerntrust.com or follow on Twitter @NorthernTrust.

About Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) is a nonprofit organization that currently advises on and manages more than $200 million in annual giving by individuals, families, corporations, and major foundations. Continuing the Rockefeller family’s legacy of thoughtful, effective philanthropy, RPA remains at the forefront of philanthropic growth and innovation, with a diverse team led by experienced grantmakers with significant depth of knowledge across the spectrum of issue areas. Founded in 2002, RPA has grown into one of the world’s largest philanthropic service organizations and, as a whole, has facilitated more than $3 billion in grantmaking to nearly 70 countries. RPA also serves as a fiscal sponsor for more than 25 projects, providing governance, management, expertise and operational infrastructure to support their charitable purposes. For more information, please visit www.rockpa.org.







The term “Midwestern values” has come to mean honesty, a strong work ethic, modesty, helping others, and keeping one’s word. Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. was the personification of “Midwestern values.”

Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1918, Ralph was raised in the Detroit area, which he called home for the rest of his life. After completing college at the University of Virginia, his time at law school at the University of Michigan was interrupted by service on a U.S. Navy minesweeper in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres during World War II. Ralph returned from military duty to work in the insurance business owned by his father, whose influence on his career he often acknowledged. Over time, Ralph moved into a number of other industries, including construction, radio and television, and professional football. He is best known as the founder and owner, for 54 years, of the Buffalo Bills football team, his proudest and most significant professional achievement.

Much has been written about Ralph’s success and influence in both business and football. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is poised to become an equally important testament to its founder. Ralph’s legacy of giving will guide who we are and what we do. His passing at the age of 95 in 2014 gave rise to his ultimate act of generosity: Proceeds from the highly successful sale of his beloved Buffalo Bills of the National Football League have been directed by him into the Foundation, making it one of the largest in the nation.

As the trustees named by Ralph to carry on the work of the Foundation, we aspire to reflect and honor his values, so that his name will be identified as closely to his extraordinary generosity as it has been with his visionary leadership and success in professional sports and business. We expect the Foundation to be a catalyst for the kind of transformative impact that was the hallmark of Ralph’s life.

Ralph’s essential qualities were clear for all to see. An optimist and a fierce competitor, he was guided by the clarity of his convictions. He was a person of unquestioned integrity and believed in always playing by the rules. He expected and received deep loyalty from those close to him and he was equally loyal to them in return. Because of these essential characteristics, people justifiably placed their trust in him. Ralph thrived on taking risks in business, sports and life, but he was humble when he won and got back up and started all over again when he lost.

Ralph was not flashy. He was most comfortable in a blue sweater, Buffalo Bills shirt and tennis shoes. For him, people mattered more than tangible things. He championed the “every man” above all others, displaying a deep respect for “difference makers” in all walks of life. For each of the four years that the Buffalo Bills played in the Super Bowl, Ralph made sure that everyone in the organization, from top executives to the custodial staff, traveled to be a part of the game. For Ralph and his wife, the fans were what owning the Buffalo Bills was all about. Walking through the stadium after a game, they were greeted with an outpouring of affection and appreciation from those fans, who lifted them up through their loyalty to the team and their unwavering expression of what the Bills meant to the Buffalo region.

Ralph’s philanthropy was guided by a big heart and a love of people, which led him to support causes, individuals and organizations whose needs resonated with him. His abiding passion for sports was evident in his underwriting of recreational opportunities for youth, women and girls, and seniors. His commitment to excellence led him to support organizations that provided high quality health care for both his loved ones and himself. Ralph was moved by people in need and felt true joy in being in a position to help them. There are countless stories from those who benefited from his generosity during times of crisis or hardship. Ralph loved to create opportunities for people to advance and expressed deep gratification in supporting those in need.

In launching this Foundation, Ralph deliberately chose not to restrict the discretion of its trustees. Instead of limiting the opportunities in which the Foundation may devote its resources, he entrusted his trustees with the privilege and responsibility to define the Foundation’s mission. It is our intention to carry out this task in ways that honor his legacy, while meeting the demonstrated needs of the places that meant so much to him.

Consistent with his desire to have an impact on everything he touched, Ralph directed that this Foundation spend down its entire corpus within twenty years. In this way he hoped that the Foundation’s work will be completed within the lifetimes of those who knew him best and that its impact will be immediate, substantial and measurable.

We approach this effort with enormous gratitude for the trust that Ralph has placed in us, with humility over the magnitude of our responsibility, and with true joy at the prospect of making a difference as we steward the Foundation’s resources in ways that do justice to his humanity.

Ralph woke up each day laughing. He loved life. He loved people. His final gift to the world is this: the Foundation that bears his name.

The Trustees of The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, governed by its founder’s 20- year spend down requirement as now set forth in its articles of incorporation, adopts the following as its Foundation Charter:



The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will operate as a grant-making organization, dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Western New York and Southeastern Michigan.



The Foundation will be guided by three defining and uncompromising values:

  • Outcomes: We will be driven to be effective in all that we do and to achieve positive sustainable outcomes for our communities.
  • Teamwork: We will seek to collaborate with fellow grant makers and members of the non-profit community.
  • Innovation: We understand and are willing to accept the risk that accompanies investment in innovative strategies.



Who and What


  • Early childhood development
  •  Youth development
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • Sports and other activities that strengthen minds and bodies

Young Adults and Working Class Families:

  • Education
  • Training for success and independence
  • Healthy lifestyles



  • Healthy lifestyles


  • Educating and training those for whom caregiving is a career
  • Providing assistance and support to those for whom caregiving is a voluntary activity


  • Regional economic growth
  • Community asset development
  • Enhancing the productivity of the non-profit sector



  • Southeastern Michigan
  • Western New York


  • In those other places where special opportunities present themselves in our programmatic priorities


Grant Making:

  • Our task as grant makers is to find and fund non-profits that will advance our mission in the regions and programmatic priorities on which we’ve chosen to focus. We will seek out those that are best of class and those that, with appropriate support, show promise of getting there.

Non Profit Sector Productivity:

  • A healthy, vibrant, growing community needs all sectors (private, nonprofit and government) operating efficiently. Our task is to invest in the productivity of the nonprofit sector within our core regions.

Opportunistic Investment:

  • Inside of our core regions we will collaborate with others to make grants to transformative projects that advance our mission there.
  • We will make grants to transformative projects outside of our regions that advance our programmatic priorities.

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