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Since 2008, Gerlach has led the Golden LEAF Foundation, which utilizes one-half of North Carolina’s share of tobacco settlement funds to assist the state’s tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and rural communities. His tenure has been marked by major Foundation initiatives to provide middle-mile broadband access across rural North Carolina, promote capital access through loan guarantees to North Carolina small businesses, support diversity in agriculture through grants to promote local foods and agri-biotechnology, accelerate the Foundation’s Community Assistance Initiative that serves the state’s poorest counties, target short-term training and aerospace workforce development through community colleges, and reform the Foundation’s college scholarship program to include paid internships and leadership development opportunities.
Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded 1,042 grants totaling more than $484 million to 501(c)(3) nonprofits and governmental entities. The Foundation has provided 49 scholarships to Barton College students since inception.
After working as a budget analyst for the New York State Assembly for five years, Gerlach spent seven years as the founding director of the nonprofit North Carolina Budget and Tax Center. He then served for seven years as Senior Advisor for Fiscal Affairs to North Carolina Governor Michael Easley, helping to lead efforts on budget, tax, and economic development policy. Gerlach currently serves on North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue’s Budget Reform and Accountability Commission, and the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers’ Board of Directors. He also serves as chair of his church finance council.
Gerlach holds a Master of Public Administration degree in State and Local Public Finance from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics and English from the University of Notre Dame. He has served as an adjunct instructor of public administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.
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