Reflections on the Donnelley Board

We are pleased to share that Sir Peter Crane, Dean of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, a board member of the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, was recently awarded the 2014 International Prize for Biology by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for his work on the evolutionary history of plants. The award presentation will be in Tokyo in early December with the Japanese emperor in attendance. This impressive accomplishment is just one example of the interests and expertise in conservation, arts and culture of our diverse board of directors, which includes a mix of both Donnelley family and non-family members.

The success of our Foundation is no doubt due in part to the unusual structure of our board for a family foundation. In the 1950’s, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley decided that the mission of the Foundation would best be guided by the passion and determination of the Donnelley family in concert with like-minded experts and thought-leaders in the Foundation’s mission areas. Today, six family members work closely with eight others from Chicago and the Lowcountry, helping to guide our mission area strategies which we carry out in partnership with our grantees.

And, our board members make no small commitment in their efforts to support and guide the work of the Foundation.  In addition to the usual committee work, our board meets in person for three full weekends a year, including an annual planning retreat, which often incorporate site visits to see the work of our grantees.  For example, this November our entire board and staff will travel to the north Lowcountry to explore conservation efforts and successes in the area between Charleston and Myrtle Beach.  The close working relationship among board and staff is one example of how we try to blend the best of both worlds, a family touch combined with the strategic approach of a professional foundation.

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