The next director of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation discovered the Island on vacation with his family and immediately decided it was home.

“Within the first few days we knew that there was something magic here and we didn’t want to leave,” said Paul Schulz, who moved to Oak Bluffs in 2020.

This week, Mr. Schulz — who spells his name without a “t,” like Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, but pronounces it as if the “t” is present — began working at the community foundation alongside retiring executive director Emily Bramhall.

“I’m really excited for the organization. I think we found a great guy,” said Ms. Bramhall, who has helmed the foundation for more than six of its nearly 40 years.

“He was on our radar, but we were thrilled when he threw his name in the hat,” said Isabelle Lew, who chairs the $14 million foundation’s board.

Formerly vice president of the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles, Mr. Schulz has also served as chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Los Angeles, after beginning his career in private industry.

Originally from Phoenix, Ariz., Mr. Schulz’s only prior experiences with coastal New England were annual reunions on Block Island with his wife’s extended family, he told the Gazette. Then came the coronavirus summer of 2020, when Rhode Island sealed its borders and the Schulzs, with their tween-age daughter, decided to visit the Vineyard instead.

“We literally fell in love with it,” Mr. Schulz said. “We transferred our daughter into the Oak Bluffs School, sold our house in Los Angeles and eventually we got a house in East Chop.”

Their century-old cottage fits the family’s style, Mr. Schulz said, and the community has welcomed them.

“Neighbors walking by and saying hello and everyone on their porch … they’re just so open and friendly and inviting,” he said. “It immediately made us feel wonderful and at home.”

Settling in on the Vineyard, Mr. Schulz began volunteering as chair of the Oak Buffs School parent-teacher organization, and was becoming involved with other nonprofits on the Island, he said.

“I was joining boards as my way of giving back,” he said.

Mr. Schulz was not looking for a job, but that changed when the community foundation announced in August that it was seeking Ms. Bramhall’s successor.

“When I saw that Emily was resigning, it really resonated with me,” he said.

It wasn’t a slam dunk for Mr. Schulz; he had some competition, Ms. Lew said.

“We had quite a few applications, and actually about four really strong candidates,” she said of the executive search, which focused on job seekers who were on the Island or already planning to move here.

Ms. Bramhall will continue as executive director of the foundation through the end of the year, working side by side with Mr. Schulz as he gets up to speed on the organization’s history, culture and relationships.

Ms. Bramhall added that she will also be available for advice as needed in the future.

“I really want [him] to be able to succeed and soar and for the organization to continue and soar,” she said.

Since its founding in 1983 as the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard, the nonprofit — which changed names in late 2020 — has grown from a $60,000 fund to a nearly $14 million charitable powerhouse for Islanders in need. The organization responded quickly to the pandemic shutdown in March 2020 by creating an emergency response fund for Islanders hit by Covid losses.

On Ms. Bramhall joined the board in 2008 and became executive director in 2016. Under her watch the community foundation has also strengthened relationships with other Island groups such as Healthy Aging MV and the food equity network, a coalition formed in 2016.

“We’re funding roughly 50 per cent of the food pantry’s costs on a monthly basis,” she said.

Mr. Schulz makes his public debut as Ms. Bramhall’s successor Nov. 10 at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, where the community foundation’s annual grant awards ceremony will take place in person for the first time since 2020. The event begins at 5 p.m.