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Simon Family Foundation Revamps Exec Team

Fundraiser Bourgeois departs post

The Ronald M. Simon Family Foundation, a Newport Beach nonprofit that provides scholarships to college students, has hired a new president to replace well-known fundraiser Sheryl Bourgeois.

The new president is Benjamin Drutman, who previously served as the executive director of the Simon Scholars Program and held other leadership roles related to the nonprofit.

Founder Ronald Simon decided to take the nonprofit down a more family-oriented route that could carry on his legacy, officials said.

Simon has successfully built and sold three area companies in the cabinet-building and homebuilding sectors.

As president, Drutman will oversee the development and operation of the foundation’s programs designed to reach Orange County’s underserved community sectors, officials said. He will also continue leading the day-to-day operations at the Simon Scholars Programs.

“One of my primary initiatives will be to develop a vocational training program to serve high school students who are not college-bound,” Drutman said in a statement. “By graduating from high school as well as this new program, these students will be able to find a job in construction upon graduation from high school.”

Change in Direction

A year ago, the nonprofit hired Bourgeois as its first president. She was one of Orange County’s most successful fundraisers and educational leaders, working for 24 years at Chapman University and oversaw the raising of over $750 million.

The Ronald M. Simon Family Foundation, which a year ago had around $33 million in assets, planned to increase its endowment to $400 million and more, much of it from Simon himself.

Bourgeois, who left in June, said that it “just wasn’t the right fit for my background and skills. I wish Ron and the family all the best in the future.”

Abels Appointment

The nonprofit also appointed Kathy Abels, Ph.D., to the vice chairman of its board.

Abels will lead the creation of the nonprofit’s alumni association, which will serve the foundation’s college graduates. She also will continue running the Simon Scholars Program, a scholarship program supported by the Simon Family Foundation, as its CEO.

“I feel so honored to be a part of the philanthropic legacy that now includes three generations of my family,” Abels said in a statement. “Witnessing the impact that the Simon Scholars Program has had on the lives of such deserving individuals over these past two decades has been nothing short of meaningful and inspirational.”

The scholarships are to help students who face difficult life and economic circumstances to excel academically and socially. It’s a six-year scholarship program that begins at the end of a student’s sophomore year in high school and continues through the completion of college.

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