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President and CEO of Community First Foundation announces retirement

Marla J. Williams

Marla J. Williams, President and CEO of Community First Foundation, has announced she will be retiring in the first quarter of 2019.

She has given us eight years of transformative leadership and serves as a shining example of how community unites and brings out the best in us, individually and collectively. 

Since Marla stepped into the role of President and CEO in 2010, Community First Foundation has experienced dramatic growth.

Under her leadership and guidance, the Foundation has defined its strategic priorities, expanded its asset size ten-fold, and created a new, permanent home in the heart of Olde Town Arvada. 

Community First Foundation staff at the 2017 Colorado Gives Day rally at the Capitol

Colorado Gives Day, the largest online giving program in Colorado, has also grown under Marla’s watch, from $8.4 million raised in 24 hours when it premiered in December 2010, to $36.6 million in 24 hours on December 5, 2017. 

Marla has also led the development of the teams and resources needed to expand our granting presence within the communities we serve.

During her tenure, Community First Foundation developed a strategic plan that has served as the anchoring framework for improving the conditions of community health in Jefferson County, strengthening nonprofits and increasing generosity throughout the seven-county Denver metro area. As part of the planning process, the Foundation conducted a community listening tour and concluded it should dedicate resources to improving the systems supporting mental wellness and changing the public perception of mental health and mental illness. The Foundation has quickly established itself as a creative leader in this funding area, with a special focus on prevention and building resilience in early childhood. 

Marla J. Williams receiving the 2016 Community Partnership award from the Arvada Economic Development Association on behalf of Community First Foundation

In addition to developing award-winning programs like Colorado Gives Day and The Innovators Society, the Foundation has also received special recognition from the community, including Community Partner of the Year award from the Arvada Economic Development Association and Outstanding Foundation from National Philanthropy Day.

We are so proud to have had Marla at our helm. Thanks to her vision and leadership, we have the resources in place to continue our mission of increasing generosity and powering community for positive change. 

The Board of Directors will be launching an executive search in the near future and will select a candidate that upholds our values and continues to drive our momentum. Please join us in wishing Marla well in her retirement—and thank you, Marla, on behalf of all of us, for all you do in service of our community.

– Community First Foundation, Board of Directors


Emily Robinson, Chair, Board of Directors

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of Community First Foundation, I would like to thank Marla for her leadership over the past eight years.  

She was the right person for the job when she took the reins in 2010.  She brought us a unique and special set of skills, including community leadership experience, a legal background that helped shape an organization in expansion mode, and an ever-present positive attitude.

We are grateful for Marla’s leadership and friendship and wish her the very best in retirement. Marla truly made a difference in our organization.”  

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