If the words Romanita Hairston delivered at Seattle’s historic Rainier Avenue Church in 2021 are an indication of the vision she will bring to her new role leading the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, then the foundation seems certain to embark on a new era of service and principled leadership.
“Renewal is the key to making the leap to what is coming ... and to accept the necessary shedding that happens when things change,” she told the congregation. “It is characterized by faith, commitment, urgency, energy, innovation, and relationships.”
The Trust announced in March that Hairston would return to the private foundation as its fifth chief executive officer, succeeding Steve Moore, who retired in June after 16 years at the Trust.
“Romanita has an excellent background to assume this role, bringing a rich understanding of the Murdock Trust, our mission, and our values, and also a deep understanding of the challenges and needs of the organizations with which we partner and serve,” said Jeff Grubb, a trustee of the Murdock Trust.
A graduate of the University of Washington with an MBA from Eastern University, Hairston began her career with World Vision, the world’s largest child-focused private charity, based near Seattle.
In 2016 she joined the Murdock Trust as a program director, working with nonprofit leaders on capacity-building grants and enrichment programs serving the Pacific Northwest. For the past four years, Hairston has led a global effort with Microsoft to improve employability.
“The higher education landscape, including theological education, is in a moment of great transition and ongoing uncertainty,” she told In Trust. “Governing boards are evaluating their organizations and their leadership. This requires their deep engagement to ensure a successful transition and mitigate any potential risks.”
The Murdock Trust – founded in 1975 by the estate of Tektronix co-founder Jack Murdock to enrich the social, cultural, spiritual, and educational fabric of the Pacific Northwest – has awarded grants totaling more than $1.2 billion since its founding. The Murdock Trust also funds the In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Initiative.