GuideStar Selects Jacob Harold as Next President and CEO

Release date: July 19, 2012

Jacob Harold
Jacob Harold

Washington, D.C.—GuideStar, the leading source of nonprofit information, today announced that Jacob Harold has been selected as its new president and CEO. Harold, a widely respected grantmaker, social change strategist, and author, has led grantmaking for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's Philanthropy Program since 2006. Harold has served on the board of GuideStar since January 2010 and will continue as board member in his new position.

"Jacob's service to GuideStar as both funder and board member has given him great insight into the organization. He was integral to the development of GuideStar's strategic plan, which offers a roadmap for GuideStar's future," said Feather Houstoun, chair of GuideStar's board of directors. "Jacob's experience working with a number of nonprofit organizations has given him the perspective from the other side of the funding table as well, which is critical to the organization's long-term success."

GuideStar began a national search for a successor to outgoing president and CEO Bob Ottenhoff earlier this year. "The experience taught us that GuideStar is an admired enterprise and a leader in the field of philanthropy, which is a credit to Bob's leadership and the hard-working team at GuideStar," stated Tom Tinsley, chair of GuideStar's executive search committee and a member of GuideStar's board. "GuideStar is poised to move to the next level of excellence and Jacob Harold is the right person to lead the effort."

"Information is the fuel of smart decision making. And GuideStar plays a central role providing that fuel for the nonprofit community," said Jacob Harold. "It's an honor, a privilege, and a challenge to be asked to serve at the helm of GuideStar. I look forward to building on GuideStar's remarkable history and helping the organization evolve in an ever-changing world. Bob has left the organization in terrific shape, and I know that the team at GuideStar is ready for the work ahead."

GuideStar is the nation's expert in collecting and disseminating nonprofit information, providing access to nearly 98 percent of its users for free. GuideStar also has a suite of sophisticated products and services that help turn data and information into knowledge and encourage transparency and charitable giving. Web traffic has grown steadily for GuideStar, with nearly 10 million users projected to visit in 2012.

Harold will join the staff in October 2012, formally replacing Ottenhoff, who announced his departure in March after serving 10 years as president. "GuideStar has a challenging mission—to revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice," said Ottenhoff. "That's no small task, and we needed someone who could come in and keep that mission at heart while taking GuideStar to new strategic heights. Jacob is a natural choice, and I'm confident in his ability to lead and grow GuideStar. I'm looking forward to helping to make sure the transition goes smoothly and will stay available to Jacob and the board during this time."

"Jacob is a visionary and a truly gifted team leader," stated Paul Brest, president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Harold's supervisor for the past five years. "While everyone at the Hewlett Foundation is sorry to see him go, this is an extraordinary opportunity, and we know he is the best person for the position. I wish him well, and I look forward to working with him in the future."

While at the Hewlett Foundation, Harold, 35, has overseen more than $30 million in grants which, together, aim to build a 21st-century infrastructure for smart giving. Prior to his work with the Foundation, he was at The Bridgespan Group, where he served as a strategy advisor to nonprofits and foundations. Before that, he worked as a climate change strategist in New Delhi, India, for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and in the United States for Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace USA. At the start of his career, he was the organizing director for Citizen Works and spent a year as a grassroots organizer with Green Corps.

Harold has written extensively on climate change and philanthropic strategy. He earned an AB summa cum laude from Duke University, received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and studied complex systems science at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C., where his parents lead small, community-based human service nonprofits. He is married to Carolyn Sufrin, a physician and anthropologist at the University of California, San Francisco. Harold and his wife will be relocating to the D.C. area, where GuideStar is based.

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About GuideStar

GuideStar,, connects people and organizations with information on the programs and finances of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofits. GuideStar serves a wide audience inside and outside the nonprofit sector, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media.

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