Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation President and CEO, Tanuja Dehne, Stepping Down After Transformational Leadership to Center the Foundation’s Work on Racial Justice

February 20, 2024

Tanuja Dehne at a podium
Tanuja M. Dehne, President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, at the opening of the 2022 Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, NJ. Photo: Alex Towle

NEWARK, NJ (February 20, 2024) – Today, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation announced that Tanuja M. Dehne will step down as President and CEO on April 1 after a tenure that is recognized for firmly solidifying the Foundation’s vision for a just and equitable New Jersey.

“We are grateful for Tanuja’s leadership in creating a strong and enduring platform for us to continue the work for racial and social justice in New Jersey,” said Preston D. Pinkett III, Board Chair of the Dodge Foundation. “We remain unwavering in our commitment, as a Foundation, to this work, and we look forward to building on the momentum that Tanuja and the entire team have created over the last five years. The Board of Trustees knows that there will be big shoes to fill, and we are committed to finding the right leader to take us forward and to ensure our work continues.”

Under Dehne’s leadership, the organization transformed the grantmaking portfolio to focus on racial and social justice, executed critical relief efforts in response to COVID-19 across New Jersey, and spearheaded the relocation of the Dodge Foundation headquarters to Newark. While at the helm, Dehne led the launch of several groundbreaking initiatives – including reimagining and expanding Dodge Poetry as a catalyst for social change and creating new grantmaking pathways, including the Momentum Fund and a first-of-its-kind Open Call for organizations that did not previously have access to funding from the Dodge Foundation. During Dehne’s tenure, the Foundation dispersed approximately $60 million in funding, primarily to organizations directly addressing the root cause and repair of structural racism across the State.

In 2019, Dehne took the helm of the organization with the mission and mandate of transformation. Leading the organization through multiple national and statewide crises, from a global pandemic to natural disasters like Hurricane Ida, Dehne remained steadfast in her commitment to “Imagine a New Way” and reallocate the Dodge Foundation’s resources towards organizations addressing the root cause and repair of structural racism and inequities in our State. Now, after five years as President and CEO, the organization has moved the majority of its funding to support racial and social justice nonprofits that are developing and implementing solutions to address some of the most challenging and pervasive root causes of inequities.

partners in front of a mural
Tanuja M. Dehne (far right), President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, with grantee partners at the Momentum Fund 2022 gathering: (L to R) Hawwa Muhammad, CEO and Founder of Pink Trumpet; Reverend Charles Boyer, Founder of Salvation and Social Justice; Maria Lopez-Nunez, Deputy Director of Organizing and Advocacy at Ironbound Community Corporation. Photo: Tracy Sham

“I’m so proud to have been President and CEO of the Dodge Foundation over the past five years. Building and leading this extraordinary team and developing key collaborations and partnerships through multiple crises and a global pandemic offered a truly unique set of leadership challenges and opportunities,” said Dehne. “We met these moments with resilience, urgency, and determination, and we truly transformed this organization, inside and out, into a racial justice funder in New Jersey. Now is the right time for a new leader to build on, expand, and deepen the work we started over these years. At its core, the Dodge Foundation is a community. We have brought together this remarkable team, passionate board members, frontline nonprofits, social justice advocates and activists, and more to work towards justice and equity in New Jersey. I am confident that the Foundation will continue to make great strides in this work.”

The Foundation staff and board will work together closely in the coming months to determine the long-term path forward, including the next steps for identifying a successor to lead the Foundation. In the interim, the strong and established leadership team, comprised of Camilo Mendez, CFO; Marianna Schaffer, VP of Programs; and Jennene Tierney, VP of People, Culture, and Equity, will continue to lead the Foundation. 

Tanuja Dehne at podium
Tanuja M. Dehne, President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, at Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ for the launch of the Paterson One Square Mile initiative with Montclair State University and other partners.

Dehne took the role of President and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in 2019 after serving on the Board of Trustees since 2015. Dehne joined the Foundation after a decades-long career as a corporate attorney, energy executive, and public company director.  She currently serves on the boards of Granite Point Mortgage Trust (NYSE: GPMT), Lafayette College, New York Public Radio, and Drexel University’s Gupta Governance Institute.

“Leading this team, at this time, to do this work for racial justice has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” said Dehne. “I feel privileged to be a part of this community, part of this movement, and part of this change, and I am beyond proud to be part of the collective efforts to move us one step closer to a more just and more equitable New Jersey.  I look forward to continuing to dedicate my leadership to this journey in new and different ways in the future.”


About the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Established in 1974, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation envisions a just and equitable New Jersey where people of all races and communities have equitable access to opportunities to thrive. Over its 50-year history, the Dodge Foundation has distributed more than $500 million in grants and technical support to New Jersey nonprofits. Today, building on decades of learning, the organization focuses its support on those who are directly addressing the root causes and repair of structural racism and inequity to transform lives in New Jersey.

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