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New HFL CEO Named: Welcome Eric DeWald

Updated: May 7

Experienced foundation leader succeeds HFL’s inaugural CEO, Maria Fruth


Following a comprehensive national search, the Board of Directors of Health Foundation of La Porte is pleased to announce the appointment of Eric DeWald as the organization’s next President & CEO. DeWald brings over two decades of exemplary leadership experience within foundations committed to community health and well-being.

 

DeWald has been President of HealthPath Foundation of Ohio for the past eight years, based in Cincinnati. Previously, he served for 15 years as CEO of Central Susquehanna Community Foundation (now Community Giving Foundation), in Berwick, PA.

 

DeWald succeeds Maria Fruth, Health Foundation of La Porte (HFL)’s founding CEO, whose retirement had been announced previously.

 

“We are excited by what Eric DeWald represents for HFL and the communities we serve,” said Scott Siefker, chair of the foundation’s Board. “He is a humble, empathetic servant leader, and his experience leading community-based health legacy foundations to greater impact will build nicely on the wonderful progress Maria Fruth and her colleagues have accomplished in HFL’s first eight years.”

 

Added Stephanie Oberlie, chair of the foundation’s CEO search committee, “From our very first encounter, Eric impressed us as an approachable leader whose thoughtful, community-oriented approach to philanthropy would work exceptionally well here. He is an active learner, and his successes creating collaborative partnerships and attracting other funding in pursuit of shared goals are completely consistent with our long-term goals.” In addition, she noted, “Eric’s experience with housing and impact investing, two areas of special interest to us, is most timely.”

 

“I am truly honored by the opportunity to join HFL,” stated DeWald. “Not only does it bring together in one place my work over the last 25 years with health legacy foundations, community partners, government agencies, and the men and women doing great work on the ground every day, but I also get to do this in La Porte, which has already proven to be a very welcoming community.”

 

“HFL is rightly proud of how much it has accomplished since its founding eight years ago,” continued DeWald. “The board’s appetite for even greater impact is exciting. I look forward to working with the foundation’s staff, board, and partners—both current and future—as together we do all we can to ensure a thriving La Porte County for all its residents.

 



Eric DeWald, HFL's new CEO


Maria Fruth, HFL’s CEO since inception, commented “I am delighted by Eric DeWald’s appointment. His philanthropic experience and collaborative approach offer great promise for our community. I look forward to welcoming him to La Porte and doing all I can to ensure a seamless transition.”

 

DeWald was selected after a comprehensive search led by BoardWalk Consulting, a national executive search firm devoted exclusively to the leadership of foundations and nonprofits. The search encompassed leaders in La Porte County, throughout Indiana, and in some two dozen other states.

 

The committee focused special attention on candidates with a proven record of strategic leadership and community enhancement, especially those working in and on behalf of smaller communities. From a pool of over 150 prospects and sources, the committee interviewed six contenders, invited four for second-round interviews, and met for a third time with two finalists. Following additional vetting, the search committee was unanimous in its recommendation of Eric DeWald to become HFL’s CEO.

 

Eric DeWald is a native of rural Pennsylvania “and a Midwesterner at heart.” He spent 15 years in Berwick, Pennsylvania (pop. 10,236), leading the first health conversion foundation of its kind in that state. After a short stint heading another private foundation, DeWald has been President of HealthPath Foundation, a part of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, since January 2016.

 

In his eight years at HealthPath, DeWald reshaped the foundation’s strategy and expanded its influence by repositioning HealthPath as an intermediary across its 36-county footprint. Over his tenure, HealthPath attracted millions in funds from government, corporations, and other funders for re-granting and technical assistance to communities in such focus areas as oral health, healthy aging, and domestic partner violence prevention.

 

DeWald earned his Master of Arts in Public Administration from Penn State University and his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Eastern College.

 

Speaking of his appointment, DeWald said, “I am grateful for the HFL board, Maria Fruth, her staff, and all those who helped nurture HFL’s development for creating such a wonderful platform for progress. I look forward to the relationships and opportunities we will pursue together.”

 

Eric DeWald begins as CEO of Health Foundation of La Porte on April 16, 2024.

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