Friends Focus highlights updates from members of our Friends of the Family network and their cutting edge work. This month features updates from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and The Russell Family Foundation.
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Sunday, December 22, 2019 marked the 75th anniversary of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. In a press release, the Foundation recalled the first grant of $100, made in 1945 “to the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis, later renamed the March of Dimes, an organization founded in 1938 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and one that today remains a thriving nonprofit working to improve the health of mothers and babies.” When Hilton died in 1979, he left 97% of his wealth to the Foundation, which seeks to “improve the lives of people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage.”
Richard Woo, who led The Russell Family Foundation in Washington for 20 years, spoke with the Interim CEO Kathleen Simpson about his favorite memories and lessons learned from a long career in philanthropy. Woo shared advice he learned from the Foundation’s co-founder, Jane Russell:
Jane’s comments about risk-taking, success, and failure also stuck with me. At my first annual performance review, Jane complimented me on a great year filled with many successes. She then said: “Richard, for all these achievements, we don’t see any failures. If you’re not making mistakes, then maybe you’re not taking enough risks and pushing beyond your comfort zone. Take risks, make mistakes, learn and move forward.” These leadership lessons that come not from a book but from building something together are some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
Woo formally retired at the end of 2019.
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