We look forward to our 2004 Annual Meeting at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, November 11 to 13. In the meantime, our hearts and prayers go out to the Florida families and communities who have suffered losses to Hurricanes Charley and Frances.
Our Thursday dinner speaker is one of the funniest and most insightful observers of the American character: David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times and regular commentator on the Lehrer News Hour. At lunch on Friday, Salvation Army national commander Todd Bassett will describe the challenges and opportunities faced by “the most effective organization in America” in the wake of Joan Kroc’s extraordinary $1.5 billion bequest. And at dinner Friday, one of the greatest directors of central intelligence in recent decades, Jim Woolsey, will discuss the indispensable contributions that philanthropists can make to the global war on terrorism.
We’re thrilled to feature three great business entrepreneurs on our program. Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus will explore why Americans, with our can-do spirit and our conviction that individuals can make a difference, are the most generous and philanthropic people on earth. Tom Tierney built Bain & Co. into one of the world’s great business consulting firms. Now he’s turned his brilliant mind to the strategic opportunities facing foundations and nonprofits; for a foretaste of his remarks at our annual meeting, see Scott Walter’s fascinating interview with him in the March/April issue of Philanthropy. Bruce Kovner has built Caxton Associates into the world’s largest hedge fund. He will describe, from his perspective as chairman of the Juilliard School and vice chairman of Lincoln Center, how the cultural vitality of American arts institutions has been sustained more by private philanthropy than, as in Europe, by government.
Kovner will be joined in his remarks by Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. After our dinner program Thursday, we will have an optional dessert treat: a reading of great poetry with Chairman Gioia, a distinguished poet in his own right and a superb dramatic reader.
As Congress considers a breathtaking exercise in the micromanagement of philanthropic institutions, we are offering a special session on the outlook for legislation and regulation governing foundations. Our speaker is America’s pre-eminent scholarly authority on the subject, Marion Fremont-Smith of Harvard’s Hauser Center, and the session will be chaired by Hank Brown, president of Colorado’s Daniels Fund, who can offer additional insight as a former United States Senator. Participants in the Fremont-Smith session will receive a complimentary copy of her definitive book, Governing Nonprofit Organizations: Federal and State Law and Regulation (Harvard University Press, 2004). For a sample of her views, see our interview with Fremont-Smith in this issue.
At breakfast on Friday, we’re repeating an experiment that proved highly popular last year. We are looking for Associates to volunteer to host discussion tables on specific subjects. You can choose the subject—e.g., cancer research funding, or ethics in higher education, or promoting microenterprise, or philanthropy in Texas, or how to say no to grantseekers—and if there is sufficient interest among other donors, we will set up the table.
My colleague Stephanie Saroki, who runs the Roundtable’s K-12 education programs, has put together a first-rate set of sessions on philanthropic opportunities to dramatically improve schools. Stephanie will also be leading a Thursday morning site visit to a West Palm Beach school to see Florida’s three school choice programs in action.
We also have a wonderful pre-conference meeting on environmental philanthropy, including a site visit to the Everglades, and a dinner debate between Bjorn Lomborg, Danish author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, and Paul Portney, president of Resources for the Future.
As this magazine went to press, more than 300 donors had already signed up. At that pace, this will likely be our biggest meeting ever. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do so quickly; space, and especially hotel rooms, are limited. You may register at www.philanthropyroundtable.org, by mail (see the brochure in this magazine), or by calling us at (202) 822-8333.
I look forward to seeing you in Florida.
Adam Meyerson is president of The Philanthropy Roundtable.