Friends Focus highlights updates from members of our Friends of the Family network and their cutting edge work. This month we feature news and updates from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, The Tow Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, and others. 

Are you a current Friend of the National Center and have an update or news about your foundation that you would like to share with Family Giving News readers? Email us. Interested in learning more about Friends of the Family? Go here.


Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund shares “The 'Sense-Making' Role of Nonprofit Boards”

The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund launched the Haas Leadership Initiative in 2005. The goal of the initiative is to support leaders so they can more effectively advance the goals of their organizations and the movements in which they work. In a recent blog post, the fund describes the "sense-making" role of nonprofit boards, and provides an update on the Initiative's ongoing research on this topic:

Nonprofit boards can play a vital leadership role for their organizations. But all too often, organizations do not tap the full power of their boards. In a forthcoming report from the Haas Leadership Initiative, we take a look at why this is, and what works to build stronger boards. Bill Ryan is a board development expert at Harvard who has worked closely with the Haas, Jr. Fund to evaluate its leadership investments. In an interview for our report, he stressed the effectiveness of building a “generative board.” Such a board, he explains, plays an important part in identifying emerging issues for the organization, developing a compelling vision and strategies to guide its work, and thinking about how to assess whether the organization is succeeding or not—i.e., how will the organization know when it is achieving its goals? 


In memoriam: Claire Tow, former president, Tow Foundation

Claire Tow, age 83, died peacefully on July 7th after a 14 year struggle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). Claire and her husband Leonard have been New Canaan, CT residents for the past 30 years and lived in nearby Pound Ridge, NY for 15 years prior. Claire was born to challenging circumstances on the eve of the Great Depression to immigrant parents. She attended NYC public schools, Brooklyn College, and became an elementary school teacher. Claire met her husband Leonard at Brooklyn College in 1949 and they enjoyed a wonderful life-long romance and partnership of 65 years.  Through good times and bad they pursued their ambitions and followed their spirit of adventure, which led them on journeys to all corners the globe, and later to successful business ventures and careers devoted to deep and impactful philanthropy.

Claire was a co-founder, with her husband, of the cable television company Century Communications Corporation and the cellular telephone company Centennial Cellular Corporation. She served as a director and active executive of both companies, where she also had a long successful career developing a human resources department with the emphasis on ‘human.’ Valued as a fair and caring employer, she was known for her problem solving skills and wise counsel. She created a unique work environment, the memory of which longtime employees still treasure.

In addition to her professional career, Claire was a generous philanthropist. She devoted much of her time and skills to the many institutions that were dear to her. She was the president of The Tow Foundation, the charitable foundation she and her husband founded in 1988. Through grants from the Foundation, Claire offered opportunities for personal success and joy, and helped to alleviate pain and suffering for countless individuals.  Claire guided the family’s philanthropy to address the needs of the disadvantaged, medical research, treatment and care, the cultural arts, and higher education.  Claire and Leonard are members of the Giving Pledge. 

William Penn Foundation names Laura Sparks as new executive director

The William Penn Foundation announced on July 28th that it had named Laura Sparks as executive director, succeeding Managing Director Peter Degnan.  Mr. Degnan recently tendered his resignation effective August 31 for personal reasons, and the Foundation’s Board has accepted his decision to step down.

“On behalf of the Board, I thank Peter for his commitment, energy and contributions to the Foundation’s work,” said William Penn Foundation Board Chairman David Haas.  “We are excited to share that Laura Sparks has been named as the Foundation’s Executive Director and will serve as Peter’s successor.  She has been invaluable to the Foundation’s grantmaking process, providing innovative thinking, unique expertise, and steadfast commitment to the community.  We are confident in her ability to provide an even greater degree of leadership to the Foundation in her new role.”



The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota releases 2013 annual report

The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota recently released its 2013 annual report, outlining its increasingly entrepreneurial and collaborative mindset and describing other big changes in the work of the foundation:

“Over the last several years, the Foundation has operated with an entrepreneurial mindset, identifying community needs and working with others to find solutions in which to invest. Sometimes we have done this alone and sometimes with other funders. But always alongside the community. We always knew our size and resources were limited, so we have looked for the exact right entry point where change was possible with persistence, long‐term vision, and the right set of stakeholders. Last year, we described this approach as 'practicing entrepreneurial philanthropy.' With this 2013 annual report, we take a moment to recognize four key efforts supported by the Foundation, nurtured over multiple years with differing types of resources that have moved from sprouting seeds to mature blossoms.


Ruderman Family Foundation announces Global Prize in Inclusion winners

feature-ruderman-inclusion-prize-logoThe Ruderman Family Foundation announced the five winners of the third annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion. The Prize honors organizations worldwide who operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community. The winners hail from Houston, St. Paul, Toronto, Israel and Australia. Each winner received $50,000 to continue their work and pursue new opportunities for inclusion in their local communities.

“Now in its third year, the Ruderman Prize in Inclusion has truly become an international recognition of excellence for the inclusion of people with disabilities in our worldwide Jewish community,” said Jay Ruderman, RFF’s President. “It is our hope that these awards will inspire Jewish organizations around the world to embrace the inclusion of people with all abilities in our community.”

The goal of the prize is to celebrate the winning organizations as inspiration and models which could be replicated elsewhere. The Ruderman Prize in Inclusion is a signature program of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community. This year’s winners include programs dedicated to employment, higher education, mentoring, leadership training, and full inclusion in communal activities and schools. Read more...

NCFP Friends help support H. R. 4719 to increase charitable giving in the U.S.

Below is an excerpt from our partner, Independent Sector on a recent legislative victory for philanthropy on Capitol Hill:

The charitable and philanthropic sector achieved an amazing victory today with the House approving legislation (H.R. 4719) that would significantly increase charitable giving in the United States. Congratulations and thank you to all of the advocates and allies who helped make this happen. Only through the support of IS members is it possible for IS to play a leading role in mobilizing and advocating for our sector.

The legislation makes permanent three temporary – and currently expired – provisions in the tax code that encourage charitable giving by both individuals and businesses: an enhanced tax deduction for donating food inventory, an enhanced tax deduction for donating land conservation easements, and the IRA charitable rollover. The legislation also would extend the deadline through April 15 for making charitable contributions and streamline the excise tax on foundation investment income.



Current list of NCFP Friends and Leadership Circle members

We offer special thanks to our Friends of the Family and Leadership Circle funders who support and sustain the work of NCFP. Our Leadership Circle recognizes a special group of our most generous supporters. Our Friends offer continuing support for our work, ensuring that future generations of donor families can access the best possible resources for sound decision-making. For more information, please contact Maureen Esposito at 202.293.3276 or at

Leadership Circle:

  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • RGK Foundation
  • David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  • Lilly Endowment
  • Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund
  • Meadows Foundation
  • Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
  • Walter and Elise Haas Fund
  • Annenberg Foundation
  • An Anonymous Donor
  • S.D. Bechtel, Jr Foundation
  • C.E. and S. Foundation
  • Arie and Ida Crown Memorial
  • Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
  • Dyson Foundation
  • Max. M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation
  • Flora Family Foundation
  • Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
  • Hyde Family Foundations
  • Leighty Foundation
  • Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation
  • Mathile Family Foundation
  • McKnight Foundation
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
  • Nord Family Foundation
  • Roy A. Hunt Foundation
  • Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation
  • George B. Storer Foundation
  • Stuart Foundation
  • Surdna Foundation

Friends of the Family:

  • Six Anonymous Donors
  • Louis & Anne Abrons Foundation
  • Jeffrey and Rita Adler Foundation
  • Nibs & Edna Allen Foundation
  • Allyn Foundation
  • Paul M. Angell Family Foundation
  • Ansara Family Fund
  • Apex Foundation
  • Ausherman Family Foundation
  • Axfoundation
  • Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
  • Helen Bader Foundation
  • Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation
  • Barnes Foundation
  • Barry Foundation
  • John M. Belk Educational Endowment
  • Bernstein Family Foundation
  • Bigglesworth Family Foundation
  • Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation
  • Allen H. & Selma W. Berkman Charitable Trust
  • William Bingham Foundation
  • Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
  • Blumenthal Foundation
  • Dan and Merrie Boone Foundation
  • Borgen Family Foundation
  • Frances Hollis Brain Foundation
  • Brindle Foundation
  • Brinson Foundation
  • Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies
  • Isambard Brunel Society of North America
  • Frank H. and Eva B. Buck Foundation
  • Patrick and Aimee Butler Family Foundation
  • The Robert G. Cabell III and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation
  • Carlson Family Foundation
  • Castellano Family Foundation
  • Cemala Foundation
  • The Clowes Fund
  • Coghlin Family Foundation
  • Colina Foundation
  • Carol & James Collins Foundation
  • Commonweal Foundation
  • Compton Foundation
  • Cook Family Foundation
  • Couch Family Foundation
  • Crevier Family Foundation
  • Cricket Island Foundation
  • CS Fund
  • The Daniel Foundation of Alabama
  • Davis Family Fund
  • Arthur Vining Davis Foundation
  • Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation
  • Deerbrook Charitable Trust
  • Delaplaine Foundation
  • R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation
  • Dorrance Family Foundation
  • The Dresher Foundation
  • Durfee Foundation
  • The Celia Lipton Farris and Victor W. Farris Foundation
  • Ferree Foundation
  • The Fine Foundation
  • Fleishhacker Foundation
  • Frey Foundation
  • Francis Family Foundation
  • Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation
  • Frist Foundation
  • Fuller Foundation
  • George Foundation
  • GHR Foundation
  • Gilhousen Family Foundation
  • The Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation
  • William and Charlene Glikbarg Foundation
  • David B. Gold Foundation
  • Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation
  • Michael and Gillian Goodrich Foundation
  • William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund
  • The Hamilton Foundation
  • Hardee Family Foundation
  • Irving Harris Foundation
  • The Hastings Foundation
  • Merrill G. and Emita E. Hastings Foundation
  • Hawksglen Foundation
  • Hidden Leaf Foundation
  • Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • Hoffberger Family Philanthropies
  • The Hoglund Foundation
  • Homestead Foundation
  • Horner Foundation
  • HRK Foundation
  • Island Foundation
  • Jacobs Family Foundation
  • Jackson Foundation
  • James R. and Anita Horne Jenkins Family Foundation
  • The Raymond C. & Anna T. Johnson Foundation
  • Walter S. Johnson Foundation
  • Ethel & W. George Kennedy Foundation
  • Grayce B. Kerr Foundation
  • Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation
  • Lawson Foundation
  • Simon K Y Lee Foundation
  • Legacy Works Foundation
  • Leonettti/O’Connell Foundation
  • The Miller Wehrle Family Foundation
  • The Mortimer Levitt Foundation
  • Lipscomb Family Foundation
  • The Looper Foundation
  • David and Lura Lovell Foundation
  • Ludwick Family Foundation
  • Lumpkin Family Foundation
  • Elizabeth Mitchell Manternach Foundation
  • MARK Foundation
  • McCarthy Family Foundation
  • Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation
  • William G. McGowan Charitable Fund
  • Medina Foundation
  • McNeely Foundation
  • Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds
  • The Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation
  • Miller Wehrle Family Foundation
  • Jean and Saul A. Mintz Foundation
  • Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
  • Edward S. Moore Foundation
  • Murad Family Foundation
  • Leo & Libby Nevas Family Foundation
  • Edward John Noble Foundation
  • Nordblom Family Foundation
  • Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation
  • Ralph E. Ogden Foundation
  • W. O’Neil Foundation
  • William J. & Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation
  • Gerald Oppenheimer Family Foundation
  • The Orfalea Foundation
  • The Overbrook Foundation
  • Patrina Foundation
  • The Paz Fund
  • Pearlstine Family Fund
  • The Peck Foundation
  • The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota
  • Pierce Family Foundation
  • Carl and Eloise Pohlad Family Foundation
  • Potts Family Foundation
  • Public Education Network
  • Quimby Family Foundation
  • Quixote Foundation
  • Rasmuson Foundation
  • Realan Foundation
  • Robins Foundation
  • Rockdale Foundation
  • Mr. David Rockefeller
  • Roth Family Foundation
  • Samuel Rubin Foundation
  • Ruderman Family Foundation
  • Russell Family Foundation
  • Ruth Mott Foundation
  • Sampson Family Foundation
  • Satterberg Foundation
  • Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
  • Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation
  • The Seaver Institute
  • Selander Foundation
  • Self Family Foundation
  • Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation
  • Simms/Mann Family Foundation
  • Siragusa Foundation
  • Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation
  • Patricia D. & William B. Smullin Foundation
  • Springs Close Foundation
  • Stifler Family Foundation
  • Stocker Foundation
  • Stoller Foundation
  • W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation
  • Stranahan Foundation
  • Stuart Family Foundation
  • Tarsadia Foundation
  • Tauck Foundation
  • Flora L. Thornton Foundation
  • Three Swallows Foundation
  • Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
  • The Tow Foundation
  • Tracy Family Foundation
  • Triad Foundation
  • TriMix Foundation
  • Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation
  • Ueberroth Family Foundation
  • Volgenau Foundation
  • Walker Foundation
  • Wardle Foundation
  • Weaver Foundation
  • Weissberg Foundation
  • Weller Family Foundation
  • Lawrence Welk Family Foundation
  • CL Werner Foundation
  • Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation
  • Woodard Family Foundation
  • Wyncote Foundationa
  • Yoreinu Foundation
  • M.B. and Edna Zale Foundation
  • Zarrow Families Foundation
  • Zegar Family Foundation
  • Zeist Foundation