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William Buster Resigns As Head Of New Hanover Community Endowment

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Feb 5, 2024
William Buster
William Buster, president and CEO of the New Hanover Community Endowment, has resigned, the organization announced Monday.
 
The NHCE’s board of directors accepted Buster’s resignation and appointed Lakesha McDay, NHCE executive vice president, to handle day-to-day responsibilities as the search for a new CEO commences, according to a news release.
 
Buster became the endowment's inaugural CEO and president in January 2022. He led the endowment through two rounds of investments that totaled $34 million distributed to 120 nonprofits in the community. An additional $20 million in funds is still planned to be dispersed into the county after 2024, Bill Cameron, NHCE chairman said in the release.

"We are grateful for his leadership, and he laid the foundation for success during his time at the endowment. We wish him well as he seeks new endeavors," Cameron said in the release. "We are totally focused on finding our new CEO, who will also be part of making transformational change within New Hanover County.”
 
The approximately $1.3 billion endowment was formed from the proceeds of the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health in 2020.

Prior to Buster's appointment as the head of the endowment, he was the senior vice president of impact for the Asheville-based Dogwood Health Trust. His role as president and CEO was to steer the direction of the nonprofit, one of the largest health legacy "unicorns" per capita in the country. 

Buster oversaw the hiring of the core team, establishing the grantmaking criteria and the rollout of two grant cycles. NHCE officials announced the latest $53 million grant cycle in December. The money is to be disbursed over the next three years. 

"It has been a privilege to help take this organization from a vision of the board to a functioning organization poised to create change," Buster said in the release. "I have been honored to work alongside this community and team in doing so. I believe the work I led set the foundation for significant change within New Hanover County."

The last round of investment did not include afforable housing nonprofits. Buster addressed the lack of afforable housing grants at a December press conference.

"We have convened all of the housing leaders in the community,” Buster said. “We took an intentional approach to not fund housing in this particular grant cycle because as we looked at all the proposals, we saw bits and pieces of things that probably needed to be woven together a little bit better.”
 
NHCE officials did not disclose in the release why Buster resigned.

Buster and Cameron did not immediately respond to requests for more information. 
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