The Community Foundation Remembers Gail Johnstone

Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Gail Johnstone, a beloved member of the Community Foundation family and a true champion of Western New York.

Gail served as President/CEO of the Community Foundation from 1997 to 2007. Gail truly understood the good in people and the power of generosity and community to affect change. She believed in the value of collaborative partnerships and strived to ensure that those who were affected by a particular policy or decision were given a seat at the table.

Gail brought her collaborative methodology for creating community change to new heights when she was chosen to lead The Buffalo Foundation. Gail immediately got to work developing a plan to restructure the institution, which was one of the oldest community foundations in the nation and the first community foundation ever established in New York State. Gail understood that charitably-minded people could accomplish much more together than they ever could separately and she set about transforming The Buffalo Foundation into what would soon become a model for the nation. Her tenure also included leading the charge to adopt a new, more modern and descriptive name for the Foundation and in 1998, The Buffalo Foundation became the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

During the decade that Gail led the Community Foundation, she led the completion of a transformational strategic plan, assets more than doubled, and more new funds were opened than had been established during the Foundation’s first 77 years. She co-founded the WNY Women’s Fund, which eventually evolved into the WNY Women’s Foundation, convened the Black Philanthropy Initiative which grew into the Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative, and helped launch the 21st Century Fund, of which she remained an active member of through its most recent cycle.

In recognition of all of her inspiring contributions to the Community Foundation and to Western New York, at its December meeting, the Board of the Community Foundation made a significant contribution to the Gail Johnstone Community Leadership Fund which was established at her retirement. Gail’s impact will continue to be felt for many generations to come.