Red Sox Senior Vice President Meg Vaillancourt, the Executive Director of the Red Sox Foundation, was today named by the Houston Astros as Vice President of Community Relations and Executive Director of the Astros in Action Foundation. At the Red Sox’ request, she will serve as a consultant to the Red Sox Foundation for at least the 2013 baseball season following her move to Houston.
“Meg Vaillancourt has been the heart and soul of the Red Sox Foundation, and her fine work has touched the lives of many in Boston, so we understand why the new team owners in Houston wanted her to help develop their team charity and community outreach,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “As our friends in Texas will soon discover, Houston is importing one of Boston’s most talented social entrepreneurs. We will miss her smarts, compassion, and leadership, but her work with at-risk kids and wounded warriors here is a great legacy.”
Vaillancourt, the foundation’s first Executive Director, raised close to $70 million in nearly a decade of service. Under her leadership, the Red Sox Foundation won the Patterson Award for Best Team Charity in Sports, a national honor from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Sports Philanthropy Project.
The foundation also earned the first-ever Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence, presented to the Red Sox owners in 2010 by Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig.
“When we first hired Meg, we knew we had someone with a passionate commitment to helping others,” said Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino. “But what we quickly learned is how extraordinarily effective she was in making our new team charity a philanthropic force.
“With deep dedication , keen intelligence, and endless energy for the work, Meg led the Foundation to great success. We’ve been delighted with the results she achieved in making the Red Sox Foundation the largest team charity in baseball and one of the most impactful team charities in pro sports. We know she will achieve similar success in Houston, and we’re thrilled that she’s agreed to continue consulting with us.”
The Red Sox Foundation was created and initially funded by Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry, Chairman Tom Werner, Lucchino, and their partners immediately following their purchase of the franchise in 2002.
In addition to developing award-winning programs, Vaillancourt also created innovative fundraising techniques, including the first-ever World Series Ring Raffle, which raised $3.4 million after the Red Sox’ 2004 and 2007 championships. The pioneering effort created a fan-favorite charitable fundraising technique now used by championship teams throughout sports.
Collaborating with non-profits and fans throughout Red Sox Nation, the foundation also led the development of Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields, a state-owned public recreation facility along the Charles River.
Another innovation, the annual Run to Home Base, has raised nearly $7.5 million in only three events for the foundation and Mass General Hospital’s Home Base Program. Launched in 2009, the program provides counseling, treatment, and support services to wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injury or combat stress and their families. The foundation has raised more than $10 million to support Home Base services for New England’s wounded veterans.
Other Red Sox Foundation cornerstone programs during Vaillancourt’s tenure include the club’s nearly 60-year relationship with the Jimmy Fund, which supports life saving research and patient care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The Red Sox Scholars program provides 220 Boston Public School students with academic and social support, enrichment opportunities, and college scholarships.
The Rookie League and RBI baseball and softball leagues foster teamwork, sportsmanship, and athletics in inner cities.
Support for the Dimock Center in Roxbury, a health and social service center, helps low-income children and families.
A recent innovation, New Hampshire and Rhodes Island Red Sox Scholarship Awards, help academically talented graduating high school seniors who demonstrate a commitment to community service.
The Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar studied at Oxford University before embarking on a career in journalism with WGBH-TV and the Boston Globe. She started her career in professional sports career when New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft then tapped her to become Senior Vice President of Corporate and Community Relations. She joined the Red Sox in 2003.
In addition to her work with the Red Sox, Vaillancourt has also served on a variety of non-profit boards.
“It has been an extraordinary privilege to work for the Red Sox owners, partners, and President/CEO Larry Lucchino, who have each demonstrated their commitment to New England through their personal generosity and by leveraging team assets to serve children and families who are struggling,” Vaillancourt said. “I have also been honored to work with the Red Sox players, their wives, and the talented the dedicated Red Sox Foundation staff and front office colleagues. I am especially grateful to our many supporters, sponsors, and loyal members of Red Sox Nation, including our MVP volunteers, whose teamwork helped grow the Red Sox Foundation in the mature philanthropic force it is today.
“I look forward to the challenge and opportunity of a new start-up and of harnessing the enormous entrepreneurial energy of Houston to the impressive strategic vision of the Houston Astros new ownership team led by Principal Owner Jim Crane and President/CEO George Postolos. Their commitment to building a championship caliber team on and off the field is deeply inspiring, and I know the work we do will have an enormous impact in the fastest growing city in the United States.”