Blair Search Partners Recruits CEO for the San Diego Foundation

March 28, 2019 – San Diego-based Blair Search Partners has recruited Mark Stuart as the new president and chief executive officer for the San Diego Foundation. Principal Trevor Blair led the assignment. The national search, which drew more than 1,000 candidates, began last year when Blair Search was appointed to assist the foundation board search committee.

“The foundation board and I are grateful to the search committee, which included many individuals and groups who provided advice regarding the future direction of the foundation and the qualities we should be seeking in a new CEO,” said Constance Carroll, chair of the San Diego Foundation board of governors and San Diego Community College district chancellor. “We are really pleased that the search has concluded in a manner that reflects the counsel we received from people who really care about San Diego.”

A long-time San Diego community member, Mr. Stuart brings a collaborative, creative and service-oriented leadership and management style to the $850 million community foundation. He is described as a selfless leader and dedicated coach with a high level of integrity, versatility and a spirit of innovation.

History of Success

“Mark Stuart is the perfect choice for the position of CEO,” Dr. Carroll said. “Mark has a distinguished history of success and leadership in the San Diego region, characterized by enormous talent and an impressive track record in fundraising. I am confident that the San Diego Foundation will benefit from his knowledge of the community, his leadership abilities, his engaging management style, his deep understanding of the Foundation’s philanthropic mission and his vision.”

With almost 30 years of experience in all aspects of operations and leadership, Mr. Stuart has served as: chief development and membership officer of San Diego Zoo Global, president of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global and associate dean of development and alumni relations for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

“I am humbled and excited to begin my work with the foundation and its professional team of dedicated staff who partner with our generous philanthropists to serve our community,” said Mr. Stuart. “The leadership opportunities at San Diego Zoo Global prepared me well for this new role that focuses on ensuring the best days are ahead for all who call the San Diego region home.”

In his new role, Mr. Stuart will oversee a senior management team of six, which will include the chief financial officer, chief investment officer, chief marketing and communications officer, chief operations officer, chief development and stewardship officer, and the board liaison. He will be responsible for developing and managing relationships with a wide range of stakeholders. In addition, Mr. Stuart will have overall responsibility for the operating health and well-being of the organization, including strategic planning, fundraising, fiscal management, marketing, programs and grant-making operations, among other duties.


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The San Diego Foundation manages and invests donor-advised funds for individuals, families, businesses and agencies. Through philanthropic leadership and strategic grant-making, the charity supports non-profit organizations strengthening its communities. The group collaborates with donors and partners to address the most pressing challenges in the San Diego region.

Since its founding in 1975, the foundation and its donors have granted more than $1.1 billion toward boosting the San Diego region. The non-profit has a staff of 49 team members, over 460 volunteers, an operating budget of $10 million, and assets of $875 million under management.

Non-Profit Recruiters

Blair Search Partners, founded in 2016, serves corporate, non-profit and public-sector clients. In particular, the firm offers unique specialization and experience serving not-for-profit organizations of all sizes and sectors. The firm manages search engagements at all levels, including C-suite, director, manager and program/staff levels.

It has placed leaders for the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, San Diego Housing Commission, San Diego Unified Port District, Goodwill Industries, Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation, Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Workforce Partnership, among others.

Mr. Blair has nearly 20 years of experience in executive search, recruiting and workforce development. He began his career with Manpower, based in Sydney. After holding a number of client-facing and internal roles within the Australian operation, he rejoined Manpower in San Diego. He served as business development manager and then helped build the company’s workforce development and executive search practices. During this time, he worked closely with non-profit organizations to develop training and job placement programs for groups facing barriers to employment, such as youth and veterans. He also helped secure significant government and private funding to back those programs.

As a recruiter, Mr. Blair built a significant practice at Manpower serving a range of clients in the public, non-profit and private sectors.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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