Blank Foundation Plans Expanded Giving with New Leader

Blank Foundation Plans Expanded Giving with New Leader

Fay Twersky comes from an extensive background of strategic planning at major foundations.

Faye Twersky comes to the Arthur Blank Family Foundation from the large, wealthy Hewlett Foundation
Faye Twersky comes to the Arthur Blank Family Foundation from the large, wealthy Hewlett Foundation

The Arthur Blank Family Foundation has announced the appointment of a new president at a time when it is said to be anticipating a rapid expansion of its giving. The Foundation’s new leader is Fay Twersky, who is currently vice president at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She will begin work at the foundation in February.

According to a Nov. 11 report in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Twersky’s appointment comes as the Blank Family Foundation anticipates the acceleration of its charitable giving.

While the publication says that those plans are still incomplete, it maintains that discussions are underway to consider what areas will be expanded and what new initiatives to consider. The 78-year-old Blank told the journal to expect giving to increase significantly over the next five years and to donate “99 percent” of his $6 billion personal fortune.

The co-founder of The Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United soccer team is quoted as saying that family members, including his children that are involved in the work of the foundation, have plans to step up their giving to help others “grow and have equality and equity in their work and their lives.”

“They’re eager to try to make a difference in the lives of others and to have an influence on [public] policy,” Blank said. “We all have a shared set of values. We don’t agree on everything, but we share the same values, and the children are engaged in the foundation.”

Last month the foundation announced the largest gift in its history, a $200 million donation to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to build the Arthur M Blank Hospital on a large medical campus that is expected to cost $1.5 billion on North Druid Hills Road just east of I-85.  The 19 story, 1.5 million square-foot building  was also described as including space for clinical research and clinical trials as well as overall patient care.

He quickly followed that up with a $20 million grant to the University of Texas in Austin to establish a center for education and research in stuttering, a condition he has said he suffers from that runs in his family.

In the past 25 year the philanthropist has concentrated his giving on programs that have benefited education, the arts, parks, and green space and community development, particularly around Blank’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Atlanta’s Westside. He also established The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University, among his many gifts to Atlanta’s Jewish community.

Arthur Blank anticipates significantly increasing his giving over the next five years.

Twersky, the incoming president, has been at the Hewlett Foundation for the last nine years.  It’s considered one of the wealthiest philanthropic organizations in America with assets of over $10 billion. Her work there was largely strategic.  She helped to help manage the foundation’s grantmaking, and particularly those grants that are considered outside traditional programs.

In accepting the new position, she acknowledged the important role the Blank Foundation plays in today’s world.

“I am deeply honored to be joining the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation as its next president. We’re at a time in our history when the needs of our people and planet call for the kind of generosity, open-mindedness and commitment to healing and repairing the world that the Blank family embodies.”

While she was at the Hewlett Foundation, it made several contributions that have impacted the Jewish community. The foundation approved a three-year grant to the Anti-Defamation League to help the ADL evaluate its No Place for Hate program in grades K-12 with the goal of expanding its use in the school curriculum.

The foundation also helped in the production and distribution of last year’s documentary, “Rosenwald,” which chronicles the work of Julius Rosenwald, the Jewish philanthropist who was president of the Sears, Roebuck & Co.  The film describes how he joined forces with African American communities in the early part of the 20th century to help overcome discrimination in education in the South.

Because of his financial contributions 5,300 schools were build for minority children.  The film was shown last year at Morehouse College as part of the Martin Luther Kings, Jr., birthday celebration.

Prior to joining the Hewlett Foundation, Twersky worked for the Yad Hanadiv in Jerusalem.  Its philanthropic work is part of the nearly 130-year commitment of the Rothschild family to Israeli society that includes the building of Israel’s parliament building, the Knesset and its Supreme Court, as well as establishing The Center for Educational Technology.

She succeeds Penelope McPhee, who is retiring after having been president of the Arthur Blank Family Foundation for the past 17 years.

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