America’s most philanthropic families continue to craft their living legacy as the next generation takes the lead.
The Lauder Family
The Lauder family gathered for the occasion of William P. Lauder’s graduation from Trinity School in New York City in 1978.
“We are a family in business and a family with heart and a passion for giving back and creating meaningful social impact. That ethic started with my grandmother, Mrs. Estée Lauder,” says William P. Lauder, executive chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies. “Our first philanthropic endeavor was the creation of new and improved play areas for children in New York City’s Central Park in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Over the years, our family has supported the arts, education, health and numerous other causes, and each of us remains active in charitable causes today,” he shares. “Philanthropy is a personal, individual choice,” adds Aerin Lauder, founder and creative director of AERIN (aerin.com) and style and image director at Estée Lauder. A champion of the family’s philanthropic commitment both personally and professionally, she says: “I encourage each person to do their own research and contribute to a cause and organization that resonates most strongly for them—whether it’s through volunteering or donations.”
William—who serves as chairman of the board for The Fresh Air Fund, as well as a global ambassador of The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign and co-chairman of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation—notes this altruistic ethos is infused into the company DNA. “While our family philanthropic efforts are separate from The Estée Lauder Companies, it is our mission to continue to instill our shared values of compassion and citizenship in our company culture. Guided by that spirit of giving, the company has made contributions to support the well-being of our global communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including monetary and in-kind donations, hand sanitizer produced at our company’s facilities and the establishment of the ELC Cares Employee Relief Fund,” he says.
Breast Cancer is a cause that is very near and dear to the entire Lauder clan. “October marks the 28th year of the Breast Cancer campaign, which has raised more than $89 million globally for life-saving research, education and medical services,” William explains. “This work is particularly special to our family, as the campaign and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation were co-founded by my late mother, Evelyn H. Lauder, whose mission was to create a breast cancer-free world.”
The Lauder family remains more committed than ever to aiding their community impacted by the challenges of today. “In response to the acts of racial injustice that have occurred around the world, and particularly in the United States, our family, in partnership with the company and its brands, pledged to give—including through The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation and the company’s matching of employee gifts—a total of $10 million over the next three years to support racial and social justice and to continue to support greater access to education through groups such as NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., Equal Justice Initiative and The Young Women’s Leadership Schools, a program of the Student Leadership Network,” he shares. “I hope that generation four—our children—will find their own philanthropic missions, their own passions and that they, too, will become happy and meaningful contributors.”
The Jacobs Family
Jeff Jacobs and wife Annie Lawless Jacobs
When it comes to San Diego power couples, few match the impact of Jeff Jacobs and his wife, Annie Lawless Jacobs. Jeff—the son of billionaire Irwin M. Jacobs, co-founder of Qualcomm and chair of the board of trustees at La Jolla’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies—has followed in his father’s ambitious footsteps as the owner and managing partner of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa. Likewise, Annie has built two multimillion-dollar brands, Suja Juice, which she co-founded in 2012, and, most recently, Lawless Beauty, a clean-cosmetics company of which she’s the chairman and CEO. “Both of us were raised in highly philanthropic families, so being philanthropic feels like it’s part of our DNA,” says the pair. “Our personality types by nature are as pleasers. There is no better feeling and reward for us than donating our time and resources to help many amazing organizations and their causes.”
For Annie, that means focusing on children. A new mother to darling daughter Daisy, she’s an avid supporter of Voices for Children, an organization that pairs children in the foster system with Court Appointed Special Advocates, and Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit founded by Christy Turlington Burns that is dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for women everywhere. “With my clean-cosmetics brand, Lawless, I developed a baby collection launching this holiday season in honor of Daisy’s birth and have partnered with Every Mother Counts to donate 10% of proceeds from all sales, with no cap, to help women around the world gain access to the healthcare they deserve and need,” she shares.
Meanwhile, Jeff is passionate about public education via Educational Enrichment Systems, which provides pre-K education to families living below the poverty line, and helping the disabled through the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which uses sports to help those with disabilities get back into the game of life—whether it’s an infant born without a limb or limbs, military veterans, people recovering from a debilitating disease or accident victims. “My mother and father, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, are without a doubt my biggest inspiration when it comes to philanthropy,” says Jeff. “They tirelessly give of their time and resources to a variety of charities both locally and internationally, including medicine, civil liberties, food banks, homelessness and the arts.”
The importance of giving back to the community is a family pillar that both Jeff and Annie hope to instill in Daisy, as well as Jeff’s two sons, Jett and Jagger. “We simply hope to make any difference we can to make the world a better, happier and more productive place.”
The Herberger Family
The Herbergers have contributed more than $100 million via individual, corporate and foundation funds to support a myriad organizations.
“It all began with Judd’s mother, Kax Herberger, whose love for the arts helped grow so many of our current arts groups in Paradise Valley,” says Billie Jo Herberger, who’s known about town for her playful ponytails and whimsical wardrobe. “I became the person to carry on the legacy, and I absolutely love continuing our family vision. Growing up in Southern California, I was also influenced by my mother, who was a big part of my exposure to the arts in my world.”
The Herbergers are mainstays in Arizona’s arts and philanthropy circles and have collectively contributed more than $100 million via individual, corporate and foundation funds to support myriad organizations, including Valley Youth Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company, Ballet Arizona, Arizona Opera, Childsplay and Scottsdale Arts, among others. They’re also making waves through their eponymous Herberger Theater Center. “It means so much for us to see everyone enjoy the Herberger Theater, from the very, very young that come to see theater for the very first time to the elderly that come to the afternoon performances at the wonderful Kax Theater,” says Billie Jo. “It has been long-established and will continue through the future to serve Phoenix, the Valley of the Sun and Arizona for decades and decades to come,” adds Judd.
It’s their ability to give back through the Herberger Foundation that serves as the crown jewel of their family’s legacy. “People find out that we are the Herbergers, and they come to us and say, ‘Oh, thank you, thank you—thank you a million times!’” shares Billie Jo. “They tell us they would not be able to experience the level of arts here in Arizona if it wasn’t for the support brought by the Herberger family.”
The Abramson Family
The Abramson family has raised $39 million for cancer.
From a dazzling performance by Hollywood multihyphenate Hugh Jackman to a quick-witted stand-up bit courtesy of comedian John Mulaney, there were many memorable moments at 2019’s Philly Fights Cancer: Round 5. For Nancy Wolfson, one image is especially poignant.
“My mother, who recently passed away at the beginning of 2020, was speaking with Hugh Jackman and asked him to auction off a personal item for our fund appeal,” she says. The idea worked: The boots Jackman was wearing fetched $135,000.
Wolfson and her mother, Madlyn Abramson, founded Philly Fights Cancer in 2015 with the goal of raising awareness and funds to support research and clinical trials at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. Abramson earned her master’s degree from Penn and along with her husband, Leonard, went on to become the institute’s biggest benefactors over the years. Through Philly Fights Cancer alone, the Abramson family has raised $39 million for the world-famous center.
Philly Fights Cancer hosted a virtual event Oct. 24 on what would have been the same evening as this year’s gala. The reason was twofold, says Young Friends co-chair Stephanie Wolfson Cohen. “We wanted to keep Philly Fights Cancer and its mission at the top of people’s minds and, second, raise funds for pancreatic cancer. It is important for people to understand that cancer doesn’t stop for COVID-19.”
With the hope of the large-scale gala safely returning for October 2021, Wolfson says that Philly Fights Cancer: Round 6 will be held in memory of her mother. “It was her vision that steers the Abramson Cancer Center to have the tremendous patient-focused care they are known for.” She adds: “It is our hope that her mission and legacy will live on through the philanthropic efforts of her children and grandchildren.”
The Bluhm Family
Chicago Cares co- founder Leslie Bluhm
When it comes to philanthropy in Chicago, few names are as big as Bluhm. Founded by real estate magnate Neil Bluhm, the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation has bequeathed major gifts to institutions like Northwestern University and School of the Art Institute of Chicago; in 2005, he established the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine, following up with a $25 million gift in 2018 to fund a cutting-edge center to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help treat cardiovascular disease.
That spirit of giving back runs in the family: Daughter Leslie Bluhm is a powerhouse in the service space as co-founder of Chicago Cares, which mobilizes volunteers across the city with the goal of making Chicago a more equitable place for all. With activities ranging from census outreach to food distribution in low-income neighborhoods, Leslie and her team have made it easy for Chicagoans of all walks of life to make a serious difference.
“Since our inception,” Leslie says, “Chicago Cares has been about partnering with amazing leaders on the South and West Sides of the city to create service projects that educate diverse people about each other and the community. We’re grateful for the deep community relationships we have built over decades. Centering community voice in service is more important now than ever. We must venture outside of our isolated bubbles to unify Chicago for a more equitable Chicago."
The Turner and Seydel Families
From left: Rhett Turner, Teddy Turner, Laura Turner Seydel, Beau Turner, Ted Turner and Jennie Turner Garlington
Known the world over for not only founding CNN and Turner Broadcasting System Inc., but also committing his legacy to environmental efforts in the United States, Ted Turner is a global force. Giving back has been ingrained in his family since his kids were little, with daughter Laura Turner Seydel noting, “We were raised by the real Captain Planet who inspired millions to take action to ‘Save Everything’ that makes up our life support system: our air, water, food and biodiversity that includes our pollinators and a livable climate. My dad, based on science and information, learned and iterated that the two existential threats to humanity are man-made climate change and man-made nuclear weapons,” she says. “We caused the problems, and we have to solve them.”
The list of organizations the family is committed to is vast, with the majority of them dedicated to improving the planet. Turner supports organizations including Better World Fund and Ocean Elders, to name a couple. More importantly, he’s founded several organizations, including Nuclear Threat Initiative, Turner Endangered Species Fund, Turner Foundation Inc., United Nations Foundation—to which he donated $1 billion—and Captain Planet Foundation, of which Turner Seydel is chairperson. (Turner created the cartoon Captain Planet in the ’90s.) Turner Seydel is a director of Turner Foundation Inc., as well as co-founder of Mothers & Others for Clean Air and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and board member of Children & Nature Network, United Nations Foundation, Nuclear Threat Initiative and so many more. The Turner Seydel clan practices what they preach: John R. Seydel, Laura’s son, is the director of sustainability for the City of Atlanta.
Turner believes in truly doing the work, saying, “Getting involved in philanthropy—even on a small scale—takes work, intelligence, experience and knowledge. It’s not just about giving money away—you have to be willing to get involved.” Both agree the time is now: “Whether it’s dedicating yourself to alleviating the current human and global conditions—be it population, the environment, climate change or the oceans—we have to tackle these problems now because our future generations depend on it. I love this planet, and I want to see the environment and the human race preserved. And I’d like to see everyone living decently in a more equitable, kindhearted and generous world,” says Turner.
“Young people expect us to take action as if their lives depend on it because their lives do depend on it,” says Turner Seydel. “As Dad would say, ‘It’s time for all hands on deck for action.’ The solutions are available. We just have to be smart about it and scale those solutions. As Captain Planet, the ultimate solutionary, says, ‘It’s by our powers combined.’”
The Bloomberg Family
Georgina Bloomberg, a top equestrian who has dedicated her life to animals, proudly serves on the board of The Humane Society of the United States
“I have always felt incredibly lucky to have the ability to give to the causes that I care about and am very proud of the donations that my father has made to help change so much about the world,” says Georgina Bloomberg of her father, Michael Bloomberg, who serves as the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and has given a total of $9.5 billion toward a wide range of causes. “They aren’t simply helping a cause while he is alive; he is leaving a legacy and making changes that will go on far after he isn’t with us anymore. Realizing this fact made me reevaluate the work that I do and focus more on the work that will change things in the future, not just change a situation now,” she shares.
For Georgina, this means expanding her philanthropic work beyond the meaningful work with rescue dogs. “While I will continue this work, I see more need now to focus on the reasons these dogs need homes in the first place. Focusing more on spay and neuter programs, informing others about the importance of adoption, fighting puppy mills and helping people be able to keep their pets through financial hardships is more important for me now because I see these things will help more animals over time and, hopefully, change the lives of animals in the future.”
A top equestrian who has dedicated her life to animals, Georgina proudly serves on the board of The Humane Society of the United States. “The scope of the work HSUS does is unknown to so many, but it has changed the world for animals and for the environment in an astounding amount of ways,” she says. “If you think about the way COVID developed in animals and then was transmitted to humans, it makes me realize even more the importance of some of the things HSUS and its international partner Humane Society International do in trying to close down markets that sell animals and so many of the practices that make animals suffer in different countries.” Georgina notes the challenges of this year have deepened both her gratitude and her commitment to help her community.
“I think we will emerge from this with a new appreciation for what we are able to do in life, from travel to the simple act of hugging a friend,” she says. “I know I feel even more passionate about helping others who have had much deeper struggles during this time and appreciate what I have in life. It reminded me of the importance of giving back and of never wasting the biggest luxury I believe I have been given in life: the ability to help others.”
The Getty Family
The Getty family gathered for Nats Getty’s 2019 marriage to Gigi Lazzarato
“I have always been very clear that I did not earn my money, rather I inherited it,” says Ariadne Getty. “I also inherited an understanding that this privilege comes with much responsibility and obligation. To that end, I consider myself a lifelong philanthropist entrusted to serve as a steward to do what I can to better society.” Ariadne, the Italian-born, L.A.-based granddaughter of oil scion Sir John Paul Getty, takes her responsibility as a philanthropist seriously, as evidenced by the incredible amount she’s contributed both monetarily and through hands-on work over the years.
In addition to serving on the board of GLAAD, she is a benefactor of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, a major benefactor of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and more. In 2004, she started The Ariadne Getty Foundation “with a commitment to ensure social and political change to further improve lives worldwide.” In its early days, the foundation took a broad approach, tackling issues such as climate change, gender equality, the plight of refugees and more. But when her two children, August and Nats, came out, Ariadne decided to shift the foundation’s focus to support the LGBTQ+ community. “I voraciously read all that I could do to better understand and support them and realized the critical need to support this community on every level and quickly,” she says. “I learned that the level of discrimination, mental and physical medical issues, homelessness, addiction, employment discrimination and acceptance, among myriad other issues, were not as far along as I imagined.”
She soon committed to support GLAAD, which was in dire straits at the time. After attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with GLAAD’s Sarah Kate Ellis and presenting the first LGBTQ panel in the event’s history, AGF donated $15 million to support the organization, a gift that essentially kept its doors open. As well, AGF is a huge supporter of the Los Angeles LGBT Center—the world’s largest provider of programs and services for the LGBTQ+ community for more than 50 years—and has donated $5.5 million to the nonprofit service organization. “In 2019, the center opened its 2-acre, intergenerational Anita May Rosenstein Campus, which includes The Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy,” she explains. Phase 2 of the campus is slated to open in November and will include The Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing, a 98-unit affordable housing complex.
“My mother has opened up so many doors for people all around the world, especially in the LGBTQ+ community, which means a lot to me as a nonbinary person,” says August, a fashion designer, philanthropist and founder of August Getty Atelier. “It is my goal in life to carry on this legacy.” Ari’s daughter, Nats—an artist, designer and founder of Strike Oil who married transgender YouTube personality Gigi Gorgeous in 2019—feels the same way. “Philanthropy has been ingrained in me since before I can remember,” she says. “My grandfather spent the later years of his life dedicated to giving back, and my mother followed in his footsteps. I believe it is necessary to incorporate some form of philanthropy in every aspect of my life.”
The Richardson Family
Linda Richardson and daughter Melissa Richardson Akkaway
For the Richardson family, giving back is a mother-daughter affair. Linda Richardson, the longtime chair of Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada’s Fashion Show Luncheon and a member of the chapter’s board of directors, and daughter Melissa Richardson Akkaway have been an integral part of the chapter’s fundraising efforts, specifically the more than $4 million the luncheon has generated since 2004.
“I have been blessed with an amazing life that centers around family—a generous and supportive husband, two incredible children and four beautiful grandchildren. The best way for me to express my gratitude for the blessed life I live is to give back,” says Richardson. “Whether it was being involved with my children’s school or planning a fundraising event for Make-A-Wish, volunteering and philanthropy have always been important elements that fill my life with purpose. I have long been guided by the mantra ‘Where much is given, much is expected,’ and I have tried to teach that to my children through example.” Richardson Akkaway is a shining example of her mother’s compassionate perspective. “Watching my grandmother and mother volunteer since I can remember truly shaped me as an individual. Giving back has been a part of my life since I was a child, and over the years, my volunteerism and philanthropy have evolved and grown with my own family and professional interests,” she shares. “But in the end, the ultimate goal is the same—to give support where support is needed.”
While the dynamic duo have supported myriad causes over the years, it’s Make-A-Wish that has meant the most. “My work with Make-A-Wish has meant the most to me because it’s something my mom and I do together. We both support many meaningful causes, but Make-A-Wish is the one we share. Plus, through the organization’s annual Fashion Luncheon, I have been able to leverage my own career as a fashion designer and influencer to partner with some of the world’s leading designers to help make our annual event extra special,” notes Richardson Akkaway. “My daughter and I have granted many wishes together over the years,” adds Richardson. “Our very first wish experience lit a fire in us that transformed our lives. Since that day, we have devoted much of our time and resources to ensuring every eligible child in Las Vegas gets the wish they need to give them and their family hope and joy.”
The Milton Family
From left: Eric, Ana, Cecil, Diana and Alec Milton
Although relatively new to the charity scene, the Cecil & Ana Milton Family Foundation has already established itself in Miami’s philanthropy fold since its founding in 2018. The organization continues the philanthropic tradition of late family patriarch José Milton (Cecil’s father), who created his own foundation in 2012.
As such, the entity focuses on causes related to helping first responders, military and veterans affairs, and the environment. And a family affair it is, indeed. Ana serves as president and represents the family on a variety of boards (Jackson Health Foundation, the Red Cross of Greater Miami and the Keys, and Zoo Miami Foundation among them). Cecil’s contribution, as Ana puts it, is to “think big” and find ways to make a major impact with projects like the soon-to-be-revealed José Milton Memorial Hospital at Jackson West. Their children, Eric, Diana and Alec, are involved in various ways, all bringing their particular professional expertise to the table, and Diana is already being groomed to take over her mother’s role in the future.
Recently, the Miltons joined the local fight against COVID-19 by offering 300 fully furnished apartments to members of the Jackson Health Foundation’s frontline medical staff free of charge for two months (a donation worth more than $3.2 million). “Philanthropy unites our family,” says Ana. “It connects us to our neighbors and our community.”
The Leonsis Family
Ted and Zach Leonsis with the Mystics’ WNBA championship trophy
Ted Leonsis, founder, chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports, which owns and operates Washington, D.C.’s professional NHL, NBA and WNBA sports teams, says he learned the value of investing earnestly in people from his father. “That has driven my investments in charitable work and falls across three main pillars—education, scholarship and economic opportunity.” As Ted led his ownership group to purchase teams, he says everything they’ve done was rooted in a mission to play a role in the community. “Sports have a significant impact on the day-to-day life of any great city, and I believe owning teams is a public trust,” says Ted, whose son, Zach, now senior vice president of strategic initiatives for Monumental Sports and entertainment and general manager of Monumental Sports Network, has followed the service and philanthropic lead. “I count myself as extremely lucky to have grown up in a family that consistently reiterated the importance of public service,” says Zach. “It was always part of our ethos, and it was really crystallized for me when I had an opportunity to interview Eunice Kennedy Shriver for a school assignment. She shared her philanthropic philosophy, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’ and that was a perfect summation of my community efforts throughout my childhood.”
Ted has cherished the one-on-one relationships that have been spawned by his philanthropic work. “I first started with Ken Holden, a young man I met nearly two decades ago through the Best Buddies program,” he says. “He lives in Tampa now, and each year, when the Washington Capitals play in his hometown, I go to the game with him and his family. The construct for the program is mentor-mentee, but I can say I’ve been just as mentored by him.”
The level of giving and community involvement for the family has evolved over time and remains viable because the family keenly understands community needs. “Internally, we launched a partnership with the nonpartisan, nonprofit When We All Vote (whenweallvote.org) to drive voter registration and turnout,” says Zach. “We opened the doors to Capital One Arena to serve as an early vote and Election Day voting super center, which allows any eligible voter to register, vote or turn in their mail-in ballots securely. We designated Election Day as a paid day off, and many among our staff chose to use their 16 hours of paid volunteer time to serve as poll workers. Increasing civic engagement is really an extension of the work we always pursued—to ensure all of our neighbors have access to the same opportunities toward greater economic empowerment.”
The Bush Lauren Family
Social entrepreneur and Texas native Lauren Bush Lauren
“The idea of giving back and striving to make the world a better place was one I grew up with. My parents instilled that in me and led by example from a young age,” shares social entrepreneur and Texas native Lauren Bush Lauren. For over 13 years, Bush Lauren has been helping lead the charge to tackle childhood hunger through her lifestyle brand, FEED.
Undoubtedly, the Bush name carries a strong role in the realm of public service and philanthropic commitment, and throughout the years, Bush Lauren has gracefully filled those shoes. However, she has carved her own path while doing so. Marrying her love for fashion, design and philanthropy, she founded FEED in 2007. Through her commitment and unwavering dedication, the organization continues to combat the hunger crisis. “I am proud that we have been able to help provide well over 100 million school meals to kids in need around the globe,” she says. “We set the goal of reaching the 100 million-meal mark for our 10th year a few years ago and I was so proud when we were actually able to reach that goal. It is all a result of our incredible FEED community and customers who really want to do good through their purchases.”
The mother of two credits her sons, James and Max, as being her source of inspiration to keep striving to work harder. “My husband and I have started to take my 4-year-old to volunteer at our local food bank with us. I want him to grow up knowing the actions he takes can make a difference in the world and in the lives of others, in both big and small ways,” shares Bush Lauren. “There’s a lot riding on our younger and future generations in terms of making major changes and taking action before it is too late.” From recent relief efforts in light of the pandemic to the endless fight to help nourish those who need it most, Bush Lauren is devoted to making an impact. What’s next for this inspiring activist? “I would like to get more involved in helping with the climate crisis, as I think it is the most threatening global challenge we will face in my lifetime. And climate change intersects with the issue of hunger in a very tangible way,” she says.
The Segerstrom Family
The Segerstrom Family carries on the legacy of the late Henry T. Seserstrom
When it comes to Orange County’s multigenerational families, few have made a difference across the arts, culture and retail worlds quite like the Segerstroms. The late Henry T. Segerstrom, the businessman and altruist who developed South Coast Plaza and Segerstrom Center for the Arts, among other efforts, changed the landscape of Orange County and the way it’s experienced by locals and visitors alike. Carrying on his legacy are his wife, Elizabeth Segerstrom; his son, Anton Segerstrom; and Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, the daughter of Henry’s cousin Hal Segerstrom. Together, Elizabeth, Anton and Sandy act as co-managing partners of South Coast Plaza.
“Giving didn’t shape our family’s life; we grew up with it,” says Sandy. “My mom and dad were involved in community organizations, so giving was a natural part of our childhood. Philanthropy continues to be a large and important part of my life as an adult, especially in causes that involve children. I founded the Festival of Children Foundation, which now serves 480 charities across the nation. I was involved in establishing the Mental Health Inpatient Center at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and have been co-chair of the CHOC Follies annual fundraiser for 18 years.” The arts are an equally integral part of the family’s philanthropic ventures. “I sit on the board of directors at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. My siblings and I believe in nurturing future generations of artists, including those in Orange County, so much so that we supported the completion of the Orange County School of the Arts Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Music Center, which was named after our parents,” continues Sandy.
It’s the roots Sandy’s family have planted that continue to grow in significant ways. “When our family donated land for what is now the site of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory and the Orange County Museum of Art, it was a gift we hoped would have a profound impact on people from many walks of life,” she reflects. “We have seen so much of what was envisioned decades ago come to fruition. And there’s still much more to come in the years ahead. That’s humbling, gratifying and exciting to experience.”
The Wilsey and Traina Families
Katie and Todd Traina
One cannot speak of San Francisco’s cultural scene without highlighting Diane “Dede” Wilsey. “My real name is Diane Wilsey, but I use my nickname, unless it’s on a building,” says the socialite and philanthropist, who is credited by many to have saved the de Young Museum after the devastating 1989 earthquake. “We lost two bond issues, so I had to raise $208 million myself. We had numerous lawsuits and tremendous opposition,” she explains. “It took 10 years to build, but despite all the problems, it was wonderful fun.”
From a young age, giving back was ingrained in Dede. Her parents, grandparents and maternal great-grandparents were deeply philanthropic, as was her late husband, Al Wilsey. “He always told my children there is nothing more fun than giving money away,” she says. The dedicated fundraiser has built her life around giving back, as evidenced by her many board appointments and countless dollars raised for various causes. “I am chair of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, vice chair of the ballet and am a lifetime director of UCSF,” she explains. “I also serve on the opera board and the war memorial board.”
In turn, Dede has instilled these ideals into her children, Todd and Trevor Traina. “The main topic of conversation at dinner each night was what charity my husband worked with and what charity I worked with each day,” she says. “I hope it rubbed off on my sons.” That it did. Todd is on the board of the San Francisco International Film Festival (formerly San Francisco Film Society) and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He also serves on the Vision of Hope board. One of Todd’s proudest moments is creating the SF Honors Film Award, and now he longs to get more involved with the National Junior Tennis and Learning network, which offers free and low-cost tennis and education programs to under-resourced youth.
Todd and his wife, Katie, who serves on the board of Compass Family Services, are encouraging their 13-year-old daughter to get involved with giving back as well. “Katie has been great about bringing our daughter into her charity to meet some of the at-risk and homeless families and see the work she has done,” he shares. It truly is a family affair, and all circles back to Dede. “I cannot even begin to count the number of organizations she has profoundly impacted locally and nationally in her lifetime,” says Todd. “The amount of time and effort she gives to her charities is astounding.”
The Johnson Family
President and CEO of Fidelity Investments Abigail Johnson
While the minds behind Fidelity Investments, the Johnson family, are famously quiet and rarely, if ever, make any comments to the media about their business, their philanthropic work in the Boston community and across the country speaks volumes. The company’s chairman emeritus, Edward C. “Ned” Johnson, and his father, who founded the company, established the private, nonoperating Fidelity Foundation in 1965. This act established the groundwork for decades of philanthropy—distributing millions to nonprofits in North America.
“When we invest in an organization, we consider it a partnership—if we can help that organization become more self-sufficient, we feel we’ve achieved something,” says Ned, whose daughter, Abigail, now president and CEO of Fidelity Investments, continues the charitable legacy as a trustee with the foundation. The organization supports nonprofits that make a significant impact on communities in areas like arts and culture, conservation, education, health, and social and economic mobility.
The Boston arts community also has benefited greatly from Johnson family largesse. Despite the fact that Ned’s arts philanthropy is done anonymously—contributing funds and loaning rare pieces of art to museums and galleries—it’s clear among those in the arts community that renowned spaces like the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., continue to enrich the community because of a family’s commitment to giving.
The Tisch Family
Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch
“We both were very fortunate to have learned from our parents about understanding our responsibility to community,” says Lizzie Tisch of her and husband Jonathan’s commitment to philanthropy. “We are grateful that our three children are finding their own ways to make a difference.” The family’s charitable efforts include commitments to organizations dealing with ramifications and effects surrounding COVID-19, including No Kid Hungry, Baby2Baby, Good+Foundation, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and DineOut NYC. “In addition, we further strengthened our commitment to Citymeals on Wheels and the incredible work they did over the course of the last six-plus months,” says Lizzie.
“We always understand our responsibility to community, and that has never been more important than the time we are in right now,” offers Jonathan, who serves as co-chairman of the board of Loews Corporation and chairman and CEO of its Loews Hotels subsidiary. “In addition to the organizations we have historically supported, we also felt it was crucial to support causes that were greatly impacted by the pandemic,” he says. “Our hope for the future is that others have come to understand that it is all of our responsibility to support our communities and those in need. Partnering together and aligning will allow us all to broaden our reach and be able to provide assistance to even more individuals reeling from COVID-19.”
The Hilfiger Family
“I was taught that giving back was the right thing to do,” says fashion mogul Tommy Hilfiger. Over his eponymous brand’s 35-year history, the deep and meaningful philanthropic partnerships include those with Autism Speaks, The Fresh Air Fund, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Save the Children, Millennium Promise Alliance and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project. “The more than 10 years we spent bringing the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project to life was one of the most powerful initiatives I have been involved in,” says Hilfiger. “I have also been personally committed to empowering and supporting today’s youth through Camp Tommy, which we founded in 1999, and mentorship programs in the fashion industry.”
Most recently, Hilfiger launched the People’s Place Program, a multiyear plan that seeks to advance the representation of Black, Indigenous and people of color within the fashion and creative industries. “I always wanted to be successful enough to support the causes that are near and dear to my heart, so it means a lot that we have been able to dedicate our resources and efforts to meaningful initiatives over the past 35 years,” he says of the many worthwhile causes he, his children and his wife, Dee Ocleppo, support.
“It’s been such a challenging time, but there have been so many incredible moments when people came together to give back. Finding areas in the industry to create opportunities for people to thrive has been a priority for me,” says Hilfiger. The altruistic leader hopes both the fashion industry and the world will learn from these times. “Every roadblock is an opportunity to change direction. Now is the time to stop and ask: What really matters? Which parts of the past are worth returning to? I believe the fashion industry will completely transform as a result of this crisis—and for the better.”