Karri Matau will succeed Maddy Metzger-Utt as CEO of the Community Foundation of Snohomish County early next year. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Karri Matau will succeed Maddy Metzger-Utt as CEO of the Community Foundation of Snohomish County early next year. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

‘It’s about generosity,’ says Community Foundation’s next leader

Karri Matau, chosen to head charitable organization, will come full circle with her new role.

Darrington to Lynnwood, every Snohomish County community is unique. Yet Karri Matau sees what they all have in common.

“It’s not about wealth. It’s about generosity,” said Matau, who next year will become chief executive of the Community Foundation of Snohomish County.

In her years at the foundation, Matau, 49, has seen generosity all over the county. “We recognize that everyone is going to do it differently in their town, and that should be honored,” she said.

She’s now vice president of grantmaking and partnerships with the foundation. The organization helps people give by setting up and servicing charitable funds to support causes they care about. It also provides grants and training to nonprofit groups.

Today, the foundation oversees about 145 funds started by individuals, families, nonprofits and businesses, Matau said.

In October, Maddy Metzger-Utt, now president and CEO of the foundation, announced her plans to retire. And earlier this month, the foundation announced that Matau had been chosen by its board of directors to succeed Metzger-Utt, 53, who’s retiring in the first quarter of 2019.

A married mother of two sons who lives in Lake Stevens, Matau has been with the foundation since 2000. It was then the Everett Parks Foundation, which started in 1993. Matau worked on the renewal project at Wiggums Hollow Park. Completed in 2002, it included play equipment, walking paths, and elements reflecting the northeast Everett neighborhood’s diversity.

The organization became the Greater Everett Community Foundation in 2001. Eight local families donated to raise a $2 million operational endowment. Annual grants are given from the fund’s earnings. In the past year, Matau said, about $2 million was awarded in grants. “It grows every year,” she said.

A 2015 name change to the Community Foundation of Snohomish County signaled a broader reach of giving.

In her new role, Matau will be coming full circle. She left the organization in 2005 to work for the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation, but returned and was the community foundation’s interim CEO. She ran the search process when Metzger-Utt was hired as foundation leader.

With Matau at the helm, Metzger-Utt will stay in a consulting role with the Casino Road Initiative through 2019. The foundation partners with the initiative, which helps strengthen and support families in that area of Everett.

A Grays Harbor County native, Matau grew up in Elma. Her dad was a teacher and football coach. She has a degree in communication from Central Washington University. Her experience includes an early job in the Tri-Cities with the Girls Scouts, and positions with the Northshore and Everett school districts.

Everett attorney Sarah Duncan will be chairwoman of the foundation’s board in the new year. Currently board vice chairwoman, she’ll replace Scott Murphy in the lead role.

“Karri was an incredible candidate,” said Duncan, adding that the interview process was rigorous.

“Whoever is the successor needs to understand the needs in Snohomish County,” Duncan said. Any candidate from outside the area would have faced “a huge learning curve.”

“She understands the needs,” Duncan said of the board’s choice.

Not every philanthropist has great wealth. The minimum amount to establish a fund through the foundation is $25,000, but Matau said that sum may be built with $5,000 contributions over five years. One recent donor, she said, is a single woman retired from the public sector.

“She said she’s doing it to prove that anyone can do it,” Matau said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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