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A Season of Change for Healthcare Foundation of La Porte: CEO Maria Fruth discloses retirement plans

Healthcare Foundation of La Porte has been committed to promoting health and wellness for the people and communities of La Porte County since 2016. Everything the foundation accomplished in the past seven-plus years has been in service to the mission: “empowering La Porte County residents to live healthy and well.”

HFL’s guiding force throughout this journey has been President & CEO, Maria Fruth. A resident of La Porte since 1976, Maria had been a rising leader with La Porte Hospital for 20 years when the new Healthcare Foundation of La Porte was established upon the hospital’s sale.

As the Chief Operating Officer of the La Porte Hospital Foundation, Maria was the natural choice as the new foundation’s inaugural CEO. Scott Siefker, Chairman of the Board of Directors said, “Maria has demonstrated a passionate and enduring dedication to the health and wellbeing of our entire community. As our Board of Directors embarks on the search for a successor CEO, it brings focused reflection to the enormous impact HFL has made through Maria’s leadership and we are immensely grateful for her service.”

Working in tandem with an engaged board, a dedicated staff, and numerous community partners and grantees, Maria built the foundation’s governance structure, solidified the strategic direction, launched its grantmaking program, and oversaw capacity-building initiatives with the nonprofit community. Additionally, significant impact investments and projects include building the HFL Conference & Learning Center, Partners for Healthier Babies, Partners in Prevention, When Seconds Count (AED & CPR), implementation of the Nonprofit Leadership Academy, and the creation of the City of La Porte Housing Initiative.

The foundation’s impact has been impressive: in its first seven years, HFL invested more than $38 million in La Porte County nonprofits, all promoting HFL’s vision for La Porte to become one of Indiana’s top 10 healthiest communities by 2030.

Maria recently informed HFL’s Board of Directors of her intention to retire in the coming months. The Board created a CEO search committee, headed by Stephanie Oberlie, President of Harbour Trust Company, to guide the transition. Oberlie said, “The selection of the next CEO in addition to managing the transition of leadership is the most critical function the board will undertake this year especially as we look to build and advance the organization’s mission and strategic objectives.”

After a comprehensive review of proposals, including interviews and reference calls with clients, the committee selected BoardWalk Consulting as its executive search partner. BoardWalk is a national search firm specializing in the recruitment of CEOs for foundations and nonprofits. The firm has recruited CEOs for 50 foundations, with assets from $50 million to almost $2 billion. HFL is BoardWalk’s 15th CEO search for a health legacy foundation.

The committee expects to launch the search by the end of August. Maria Fruth will continue as CEO until a successor has been named by the Board and a smooth transition to the new CEO is well underway.

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