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John Davies, head of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, talks at a Rotary Club meeting. Davies is retiring at the end of this month after 33 years leading a philanthropic organization that has grown its coffers from $5 million to $722 million.

It will take a very successful search indeed to replace the record of achievement of John G. Davies, head of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation for 33 years.

He will continue to serve on the board of the real estate investments which have been so lucrative for the foundation, but it is with BRAF that he achieved national stature in the world of philanthropy.

The tiny local fund that Davies took over is now the largest community foundation in Louisiana and has taken a leadership role in state as well as local projects, including raising money and directing grants for hurricane relief from Katrina to Ida.

The transformational leadership of BRAF can be seen everywhere in its hometown. And the foundation has never shrunk from pushing change, even if controversial. That’s unusual in community foundations nationwide, and many have taken notice of Davies’ style in Baton Rouge.

Good luck to his successor. It’s a difficult act to follow.

Lanny Keller: A lesson in building change with civic leadership from BRAF