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Successful Transitions in Family Philanthropy

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Successful Transitions in Family Philanthropy
Presenters: Ashley Blanchard, TCC Group and Adrianne Benton, Benton Foundation Trustee
Thursday, April 24 | 11:00 am

Generational transitions in family philanthropy are exciting times that offer new possibilities for leadership and direction. But, they can also be fraught with conflict. How can families ensure that philanthropic values are passed down from one generation to the next? How can founders ensure that their interests are preserved while giving the next generation the flexibility to pursue their own philanthropic interests? And how can they do it all together, through a family foundation? In this session, we will examine how families have managed generational transitions and balanced their twin goals of family engagement and social impact. We will discuss the typical "lifecycles” of family foundations and the various stages of their evolution from generation to generation. We will hear from family foundation trustees who have been involved in transitions (Ashley Snowdon Blanchard, Hill Snowdon Foundation trustee, and Adrianne Benton, Benton Foundation trustee) about their experiences: what worked well, what didn’t, and lessons for others. And we will discuss the key steps family foundation leaders can take to increase the likelihood that the family foundation serves as a vehicle to bring family members together in a positive, productive way for generations to come.

Ashley Blanchard is the Associate Director of Philanthropy at TCC Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping the social sector achieve greater impact. Since her arrival at the firm in 2004, she has focused on strategic planning for foundations. Clients have included large private foundations such as the Ford Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and William Penn Foundation; community foundations such as the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Erie Community Foundation and Community Foundation for Western North Carolina; and numerous family foundations, such as the Benton Foundation, Goldsbury Foundation, Robert H.N. Ho Foundation, Johnson Art and Education Foundation and Ohrstrom Foundation. In addition to strategic planning, much of Blanchard’s work is focused on governance and board development.

In addition to her role at TCC, Blanchard is Vice Chair of the board of the Ms. Foundation for Women, co-founder of the Council on Foundation’s Next Generation Advisory Task Force, and a trustee of the Hill-Snowdon Foundation. Hill-Snowdon is a Washington-DC based family foundation which strives to create a fair and just society by supporting community organizing among low-income families and communities. Blanchard is the former board chair and a fourth-generation family member. She is the author of "Strategic Philanthropy: Maximizing Family Engagement and Social Impact” (National Center for Family Philanthropy, 2008).

Blanchard is a graduate of Stanford University and the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, where she completed her Master’s Degree in Public Policy.

Adrianne Furniss is Executive Director, Board Member and Trustee of the Benton Foundation, a private family foundation with offices in Evanston, IL and Washington, DC. The Benton Foundation ( works to ensure that media and telecommunications serve the public interest and enhance our democracy. We pursue this mission by seeking policy solutions that support the values of access, diversity and equity, and by demonstrating the value of media and telecommunications for improving the quality of life for all. Adrianne spent her professional career in the media business, specializing in distribution and marketing strategies, management, strategic planning and acquisitions. For 13 years, she worked at Chicago-based Home Vision Entertainment (HVe), where she rose from Executive Vice President to President/CEO and majority owner before selling the business in 2005. In addition to licensing, publishing, distributing and marketing classic and independent films, Home Vision Entertainment was the distributor of the renowned DVD special edition publisher The Criterion Collection. Before that, Adrianne spent fourteen years in New York City, the last eight travelling the world for Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) where she served as VP of International Television. Currently, Adrianne serves on three boards. In addition to the Benton Foundation, she is Chair of the Board for the not-for-profit documentary film and media arts company, Kartemquin Films, based in Chicago. She is also on the board of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, based in Washington, DC, whose mission is to promote philanthropic values, vision, and excellence across generations of donors and donor families. Adrianne received her BA at Yale University in Art History and an MA in Radio, TV and Film from Northwestern University. She lives in Wilmette, Illinois, with her husband, Bob Furniss, Deputy Inspector General for the State of Illinois Department of Human Services. They have two daughters: Lily is 18 and a senior at New Trier High School; Carrie, 22, is a senior at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami, FL.

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