The leader of a foundation that has helped kick-start or save several local projects and organizations is retiring.

Michael Hannigan, who has served as the Pikes Peak Community Foundation's executive director since 1998, will retire on Dec. 31. He will remain a consultant with the foundation for at least a year "to provide a smooth transition for the organization," according to a statement by the foundation.

The foundation has grown considerably during Hannigan's tenure, evolving from the small, private Colorado Springs Community Trust into a $58 million foundation that manages about 400 funds.

It grants money from its own coffers and has raised funds in the aftermath of the many natural disasters that have hit the region - for example, by taking a lead philanthropic role immediately following the Black Forest fire.

"It's a loss," said Larry Stebbins, director of Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, which is overseen by the foundation. "We're going to miss him. I'm going to miss him."

The foundation also helps manage small projects and programs, so that they can focus on their mission.

In 2006, for example, Nick Venetucci gifted his farm to the foundation. During that process, Hannigan helped turn it into a conservancy - a critical component to the farm carrying on, said Susan Gordon, who helps manage the farm with her husband.

"He just has the ability to connect with such a wide, a diverse spectrum of people," Gordon said. "And I think that's what's helped make the foundation so successful."

That concept - providing the administrative muscle for projects, programs and organizations - has served as the lifeblood for many initiatives across the region.

The foundation's backing, for example, helped Pikes Peak Urban Gardens start more than 12 community gardens throughout Colorado Springs.

"If it wasn't for Michael, none of this would have happened," Stebbins said.

The foundation's board of trustees will begin a search for Hannigan's successor, the foundation's statement said. It has yet to decide whether Hannigan will be paid for his consultant work in 2015, said Kate Singh, a foundation spokeswoman.