Welcoming Our First Distinguished Fellow in Family Philanthropy

Editor’s note: We are pleased to share NCFP President Virginia Esposito’s introductory remarks announcing our first Distinguished Fellow in Family Philanthropy at the National Forum. Read the official press release for more details.

It is an incredible honor to be announcing the first Distinguished Fellow of the National Center for Family Philanthropy. Bruce Maza, CEO of the C. E. and S. Foundation, co-chaired the President’s Leadership Initiative Committee which selected our Distinguished Fellow, along with our founding chairman, Tom Lambeth, long-time executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Bruce and Tom have been our moral guides, enthusiastic cheerleaders and among our most devoted advocates for advancing the leadership of donor families.

The President’s Leadership Initiative was approved by the NCFP Board as a way to enhance and sustain the mission of the organization. It was born of my deep appreciation for those who have taken the time over three decades to inspire, nurture and develop my ability to serve this field. It is therefore more than fitting, that along with Julie Fisher Cummings of the Max and Marjorie Fisher Foundation in Detroit, the Committee includes one of my greatest teachers, Alice Buhl. As Senior Fellow, Alice has given countless hours and endless wisdom to supporting the development of the Center – and keeping me on track.

Alice’s service as Senior Fellow has made us realize how much our field has benefited from (if not always recognized) the contributions of all of you who serve as leaders – community leaders, family leaders, field leaders. How could we draw your leadership to the Center so we might hold up your example and both learn and be inspired by it?

The President’s Leadership Committee elected to add to the Senior Fellow position a Distinguished Fellow – a colleague whose life of service was worthy of appreciation and emulation. Over the Fellow’s tenure, she will be available for special programs and resources, beginning with this one. We will look for guidance on issues that have special meaning for her and lessons learned over the course of her work.


She has been an active trustee not only of the Packard Foundation where she serves as chair, but the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Packard Humanities Institute. She has been a trustee of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health and of Stanford University. And she was on the board of the Hewlett Packard Company for seven years.

Susan’s foundation leadership embraces its family roots and a mission guided by family values. That personal values and passions of family can inform strategic and sophisticated programming is not a contradiction in choice but a conscious celebration of the value of family dedicated to the highest quality grantmaking.

Having known Susan for her sincere humility and preference for behind the scenes work, I know this must be distinctly uncomfortable for her. So let me put her out of her misery.

For all she has experienced, for her philanthropic leadership, for her potential to inspire and inform generations of giving families, the National Center for Family Philanthropy is proud to name Susan Packard Orr as our first Distinguished Fellow in Family Philanthropy.

Read the full press release.