Pence’s top education adviser named Fairbanks Foundation CEO

Gov. Mike Pence’s point person on education issues will leave the administration to become CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, the Indianapolis-based not-for-profit group announced Thursday.

Claire Fiddian-Green leads the Center for Career & Education Innovation, or CECI, which Pence created shortly after taking office in 2013. But Pence, a Republican, announced Thursday he will close that agency in an attempt to “restore harmony and trust” with Glenda Ritz, the superintendent of public instruction.

Ritz, the highest-ranking Democrat holding a statewide office, has said CECI was taking over duties that properly belong with her or her agency, the Indiana Department of Education.

Fiddian-Green will take the helm of the Fairbanks Foundation on Feb. 2, replacing Len Betley, who has led the charity since 2000. Betley will remain on the foundation’s board of directors.

The Fairbanks Foundation had $282 million in assets at the end of 2012, the most recent information available on the organization’s web site. In 2013, Fairbanks awarded grants totaling $13.7 million, focusing primarily on the areas of health and the “vitality of Indianapolis.”

Fiddian-Green used to work for the Fairbanks foundation as a grant officer focusing on education issues. The foundation helped to fund The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education reform group, and Fiddian-Green later worked for the Mind Trust as its president.

Before joining the Fairbanks Foundation, Fiddian-Green was a business analyst for Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co.

"We selected Claire because of her varied experiences in the corporate, not-for-profit and public sectors, as well as her background in life sciences and education," said Daniel Appel, chairman of the Fairbanks Foundation, in a written statement.

The Fairbanks Foundation will also soon have a new chief financial officer, Patricia Dean, who will replace the retiring Roger Snowden on Jan. 1.

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