Heinz Endowments searching for new president

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The Heinz Endowments has hired a prominent executive search firm to help find its next president.

Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates assisted the University of Pittsburgh in its recent search for a new chancellor and last year helped Carnegie Mellon University hire a new president.

For the Downtown-based Heinz Endowments, Storbeck/Pimentel will search for a successor for Robert Vagt, who left in January after serving in the top job since 2008.

Mr. Vagt announced his plans to step down in October amidst a staff shake-up and controversy surrounding the endowments' direction on environmental issues. He is now chairman of the board of Rice Energy, an oil and gas drilling company based in Canonsburg.

Officials at Storbeck/Pimentel's suburban Philadelphia office and a spokeswoman at the endowments office said they could not comment on the search process.

The endowments, with assets of about $1.5 billion, is the second-largest foundation in the region behind the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and is among the 50 largest foundations in the U.S. It awards approximately $70 million in grants a year. Though founded by the family of the H.J. Heinz food empire, it is no longer formally connected to the Pittsburgh company.

According to a published job posting, the endowments is seeking nominations and applications by March 24.

When Mr. Vagt was hired, the endowments' spend six months looking for a candidate before offering him the position. For that nationwide search, the endowments used Washington, D.C.-based search firm Russell-Reynolds.

Storbeck primarily handles searches for college and university executives, but it also conducts a "select number" of searches for nonprofits, according to its website. Among its clients are the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Los Alamos National Laboratory. In January, it was retained by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to search for its new president and chief executive.

Joyce Gannon: jgannon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1580.

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