Paula Van Ness

    Following a rigorous and fruitful national search for a new CEO, the Connecticut Community Foundation has announce that Paula Van Ness, former COO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in New York, and former president and CEO of the Starlight Children’s Foundation, has accepted the position as of February 1, 2012.

  Van Ness is a seasoned nonprofit executive with four decades of leadership experience in a wide variety of organizations. Her skill set includes strategic planning, organization development, resource development marketing/branding, and human resources. She has worked for start-ups, turnarounds, and mature organizations.

   In addition to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and the Starlight Children’s Foundation, Van Ness was the president and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America based in Phoenix. She held the position of CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness and was the founding president of the National AIDS Fund. Additionally, she headed up the National AIDS Information and Education program for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and Family Planning Centers of Greater Los Angeles.

   Van Ness has served on the boards of directors and as an officer of the Independent Sector, KaBOOM! and several other national nonprofit organizations. Currently, she serves on the boards of Gift of Adoption Fund and Comeback America Initiative.

    Educated at the University of Arizona where she earned a BS in Child Development and the University of San Fransisco where she completed a master’s program in Organization Development, Van Ness is a certified Grant Professional and graduate of a leadership development program at the Center for Creative Leadership.

   The Search Committee was headed up by Martha Bernstein, Craig Carragan, Lynn Franklin-Henry, Dr. Peter Jacoby and Anne Slattery. For more information, visit or call the foundation at 203-753-1315.