Chris Daggett retiring as CEO of Dodge Foundation; returning to politics?

Chris Daggett, the former state and federal official and gubernatorial candidate, is retiring as CEO and president of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Morristown-based organization announced recently.

Daggett, who has led the foundation since 2010, will retire effective Sept. 1. The organization said his remaining through the summer months will ensure a smooth leadership transition, and that he will remain available to it afterward as needed.

“I am very excited about the (foundation’s new) strategic plan, and believe it will enable Dodge to help citizens and nonprofit organizations become more engaged in their communities and more inclusive in their work,” Daggett said in a prepared statement. “I have been fortunate to be involved in this important shift in priorities, and now leave to my successor the challenges and opportunities of implementing the plan.”

The strategic plan envisions an equitable New Jersey, providing the organization with a new vision and mission, as well as redefined goals and strategies. Under Daggett’s leadership, the foundation expanded its leadership position in arts, education, environment, poetry and technical assistance training to fellow nonprofits throughout the state. Daggett also initiated a focus on local news and information.

“The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and, more importantly, the people of New Jersey have benefited from Chris’ dedication to the state, its arts, environment and education,” Christopher “Kim” Elliman, chairman of the board, said in a statement. “Chris’ signature achievements were in orchestrating the philanthropic commitment to fostering an ecosystem for local news, for the response and rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy and for the increased focus on training STEM teachers for New Jersey’s schools.”

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was established in 1974 through the generosity of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge. Since Daggett’s arrival eight years ago, the foundation has awarded more than $90 million in grants to hundreds of organizations.

“Working for the Dodge Foundation has been a remarkable opportunity for which I am most grateful,” Daggett said. “I am proud of the staff and trustees for all that we have been able to accomplish together, and look forward to following the work of the foundation.”

Daggett served in Gov. Tom Kean’s administration as deputy chief of staff and commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. He also served as Region 2 administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“I am committed to identifying other opportunities and challenges that allow me to continue contributing to the well-being of the state,” he said.

At least one published report said Daggett, who ran for governor in 2009 as an independent, might be considering a return to state politics.

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