Yesterday, the Supervisory Board of ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse Privatstiftung, in short: ERSTE Foundation, appointed Doraja Eberle as the new chairwoman of the foundation’s Managing Board. At the preceding plenary meeting of the ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse Privatstiftung association, Andreas Treichl resigned from his position as chairman of the board after ten years of development work.
Boris Marte will also leave the Board. He has accepted a management position in Erste Group’s Retail business and will be head of Erste Group’s innovation lab. Alongside the appointment of Eberle, two further members have thus joined the Board, namely the director of the foundation’s Social Development Programme, Franz Karl Prüller, and the financial expert Bernhard Spalt. Rupert Dollinger already left the Board in summer. Richard Wolf will continue in his role as a member of the board. He has been appointed as deputy chairman.
The new Managing Board will thus consist of Doraja Eberle (chairwoman), Franz Karl Prüller, Bernhard Spalt and Richard Wolf (deputy chairman).
Andreas Treichl took stock of his term of office during the association’s periodic plenary meeting, stressing that he had been considering this step for a long time, but had postponed the move due to the challenging overall situation.
Andreas Treichl had been chairman of the Managing Board since the inception of ERSTE Foundation in 2003. Treichl said that this decision was based on the fact that after years of building up the foundation – a period when it had been essential to establish the foundation’s identity as an independent organisation, develop topic-specific programmes and create a stringent profile – the time had come to take this next step. Treichl went on to say: “With a superb team headed by Boris Marte we have developed the foundation into one of the most important non-profit foundations in Central and South Eastern Europe. What is even more decisive: we have significantly strengthened civil society, which is so important for the democratic, social and cultural development of this region. Now we want to have more practitioners from civil society on the Managing Board in order to boost the impact of our activities.”
Treichl also stated that another reason for making these changes to the Managing Board at this point was the changing environment for the Austrian savings bank private foundations: “We are an exception in a small group of exceptions. Savings bank foundations serve the public good – an exception among Austrian foundations – while they also assume ownership responsibility. The more successful this model gets, the more responsibility you have to fulfil this role effectively. Conventional constellations will give way to new regulations over the next few years. I would like to anticipate this – particularly as we have contemplated the step of separating functions for quite some time now.”
He said he was happy “to hand over the management of the young but already renowned foundation to an experienced woman who will ensure that the foundation continues to sharpen its thematic profile and boost its social impact.” Andreas Treichl and Boris Marte will continue to contribute their experience as members of the foundation’s independent Advisory Board. Eberle will devote her full attention to the new task: “I know ERSTE Foundation from my previous work on the Board and I’m aware of the fantastic work that has been done so far, work that I can now build on. Consistency is important to me. I would like to set a new course by focusing even more strongly on areas where we, as a foundation, can make a difference.”
Georg Winckler, the association’s president and chairman of the Supervisory Board, thanked Treichl and Marte for their commitment. The foundation owes to them its existence in the present form and that it has quickly matured into an institution that can be described as a competence centre: “With Eberle and Prüller, two renowned experts have joined the Board, who – in various functions prior to and during their work for the foundation – have not only collected a great deal of knowledge and specific experiences in the social field, but have also made personal contacts in Central and Eastern Europe,” he said, explaining the reasons for the Supervisory Board’s decision.
From the start of its operations in 2005 to the end of 2011, ERSTE Foundation invested EUR 51.2 million in social and cultural projects and projects supporting European integration in 24 Central and South-Eastern European countries. During this time it supported or implemented a total of 741 projects. As an operational foundation, it develops its own initiatives and currently has 31 staff members from six countries. One of the most successful projects is the cross-border school network “Academy of Central European Schools” (aces). Over the past six years, almost 20,000 pupils from 15 countries have passed through this network. In Austria the Zweite Sparkasse, a bank for people without a bank, is one of the best known initiatives of the foundation, which provided the founding capital of EUR 5.8 million in 2006. The foundation’s cultural projects, such as the tranzit network and the large-scale Gender Check exhibition shown in Vienna and Warsaw three years ago, provide support to an area which receives virtually no public funds in Central and Eastern Europe. Next year the ERSTE Foundation Social Integration Award – worth EUR 610,000 – will be awarded for the fourth time to 33 winners from 13 nations. Austria will participate for the first time, with the award ceremony being held in Vienna.