The Piqua Community Foundation Board of Directors is announcing the hire of a new executive director to lead the organization.

Michelle Perry is joining The Foundation alongside current director Karen Wendeln beginning March 3. Wendeln has been the executive director of The Foundation for nearly 20 years, the only one to have served in that role, and is retiring later this year. Wendeln and Perry will work cooperatively for several weeks to ensure consistency and cohesion for the organization and the Piqua community.

“We are excited to have such a dynamic and enthusiastic leader joining The Foundation,” said Steven Staley, president of The Foundation Board of Directors. “Michelle’s experience in nonprofit management, public relations and spearheading large-scale community projects made her the board’s top choice for this position. She and Karen will complement each other well as they work together to make a smooth transition in leadership.”

Perry is a graduate of Sidney High School and Indiana University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and certificate in journalism. She began her career at a daily Colorado newspaper, rising to the role of editor at 23. She later moved into nonprofit leadership and marketing positions in the health care, early childhood development and economic development fields. Most recently, she served as the culture manager for a statewide higher education technology commercialization organization as an employee of the University of Kentucky.

Accepting this new role marks a return to Perry’s roots after many years away.

“I couldn’t be more excited to return to Piqua, where I spent most of my childhood on a farm on Miami-Shelby Road, to be near family,” Perry said. “I am ecstatic to have found the ideal fit at the Piqua Community Foundation and am eager to get to work continuing on the strong legacy built by the board and Karen.”

The Foundation also recently promoted Erica Ernst Claypool to the role of administrator of grants and scholarships, effective March 1. This new role places her in the role of leading the allocations of twice-annual grant awards from the Piqua Community Fund to numerous Piqua-area nonprofit organizations and scholarships to Piqua residents seeking to further their educations.

“Erica has been an asset to this organization since she joined us in 2018, and she will excel with these new responsibilities of managing our distributions within the community,” Wendeln said. “I am encouraged by the strong team we’ve built for The Foundation going forward as I transition away from my role as executive director this summer. I will certainly miss the work of The Foundation and the incredible impact we have on the community.”

The Foundation was founded in 1993 as a 501(c)(3) organization by a small group of citizens interested in investing in their community. Its mission is to encourage charitable giving to benefit the citizens of Piqua and provide a variety of methods for donors to help fulfill their charitable giving wishes.

The Foundation offers opportunities to contribute to the community through restricted and unrestricted gifts of any size. The organization then offers grants to programs and projects whose missions are religious, scientific, literary, educational or charitable and align with the guidelines of each fund.

“We have organized this transition in leadership of the Piqua Community Foundation to minimize disruption of our services and to maximize the transfer of institutional knowledge over an extended time,” Staley said. “The Board of Directors and I whole-heartedly believe that as we celebrate the accomplishments of Karen over her two-decade-long service to The Foundation and welcome Michelle back to our community, we can continue the high level of professionalism and responsibility for which The Foundation is known while exploring opportunities to expand our reach in service to our community.”

Pictured: New Executive Director, Michelle Perry (standing) with Administrator of Grants and Scholarships Erica Claypool (left) and retiring Executive Director Karen Wendeln (right).