Timothy (“Bo”) Kemper
In March, Timothy (“Bo”) Kemper became the first executive director of the Robertson Foundation for Government (RFFG), a new foundation dedicated to cultivating and placing talented public servants in the federal government. RFFG was founded this past spring by the family of the late Charles and Marie Robertson, using proceeds from a $100 million settlement with Princeton University. (Please see “Tiger’s Intent,” Philanthropy, Winter 2009.)
One of RFFG’s top priorities is protecting the charitable intent of Charles and Marie Robertson, as originally stated for their gift to Princeton: “to strengthen the Government of the United States and increase its ability and determination to defend and extend freedom throughout the world by improving the facilities for the training and education of men and women for government service” (especially in foreign affairs).
“To ensure that we’re successfully delivering on the foundation’s mission, we’re very explicit what the mission of the foundation is, what the intent of the donation is, and what the requirements of the institution and the fellows are,” Kemper says. “Each fellow will have to read the Robertson mission statement and sign off on it. We’re doing everything we can to ensure fellows understand our goals and how we aim to provide assistance.”
Another lesson from the Princeton litigation: “The Robertson Foundation is creating graduate fellowship programs at partner institutions and not awarding any money right now for endowments,” Kemper adds.
The initial five partners are the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, the Fletcher School at Tufts University, the George Bush School at Texas A&M University, and the University of California–San Diego. Kemper hopes to have up to 12 fellows starting in the fall of 2010. After completing their degrees (and two years in the fellowship), fellows are required to serve three years in the federal government and be proficient in a foreign language.
“The whole idea of developing this cohort of Robertson Fellows from different universities is that once they get into federal service, they will have had the opportunity to know one another during their internship experience in Washington, D.C. These friendships will allow Robertson Fellows to be of service to one another during their career in public service (similar to the White House Fellows program). They will have the ability to help each other get jobs, move up, and develop an esprit de corps,” Kemper explains. The need, he says, is greater than ever: “There’s going to be a significant exodus of federal employees over the next 10 years due to retirements.” Thus, RFFG will continue expanding its fellowship programs, and its work will grow to include mid-career training as well as public policy.
RFFG is a family foundation chaired by William S. Robertson, Charles and Marie’s son. The family board members (Katherine Ernst, Charlie Meier, John Linnartz, and Geoff Robertson) are all “very active” in RFFG, Kemper explains. “Serving as chairman, Bill Robertson is very, very involved in day-to-day operations,” he adds. “It’s a tremendous testimony to the Robertson family that they’ve taken this settlement and rolled it into a new foundation in an effort to make America a better, safer place for everyone. It’s an extraordinary patriotic mission, and tremendously important to the family.”
Kemper is no stranger to start-up foundations. He was involved in launching a Chicago-based family foundation, where he served as president, as well as the Children’s Scholarship Fund in Chicago, where he was executive director. He has held positions in business, finance, philanthropy, and higher education; immediately prior to joining RFFG, Kemper was vice president for institutional advancement at Marian University. He received his MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University and his B.S. in psychology, magna cum laude, from Arizona State University. He is a board member of several educational and civic organizations.
As project manager for the late Steve Fossett’s expeditions, Kemper holds 15 absolute world records (and 6 “world’s firsts”) in ballooning, as well as 12 absolute world records in speed sailing. He is a fellow of the Explorers Club and the Royal Geographical Society.
F. M. Kirby Foundation
In April, after 43 years in the post, F. M. Kirby II retired as presi-dent of the Morristown, New Jersey–based F. M. Kirby Foundation. He will remain on the foundation’s board, and is succeeded by his son S. Dillard Kirby, who was promoted from executive director.
Founded in 1931 by retail innovator Fred Morgan Kirby—F. M. Kirby II’s grandfather—the family foundation’s hallmark is finding what Dillard Kirby calls “winners” in the family’s areas of interest, and providing them with long-term operating support. (Please see Philanthropy, November/December 2008.) “Some call that capacity-building today; my father calls it being practical,” says Kirby. “He realized that organizations need to pay their electric bill much more than appease funders by creating programs they think a funder might like that year.”
F. M. Kirby II’s presidency marked the most active period of growth for the foundation. Under his personal management—“always with a long-term view,” Dillard notes—the foundation’s endowment grew from approximately $15 million to a peak of over $500 million, while distributing over $440 million in gifts.
Over the last 43 years, says Dillard, “my father has focused on conservative values in both action and specific support of grantees. He has guided the foundation’s support to more than 25 public policy organizations focused on free enterprise, self-reliance, liberty, and the fundamental principles on which our country was founded.” F. M. Kirby II also initiated the foundation’s support of medical research and young scientists “doing cutting-edge work that many would not fund because it seemed too risky,” Dillard adds.
After his 10 years as the Kirby Foundation’s executive director and 24 years on the board, Dillard Kirby’s presidency signifies continuity. “I believe the board endorsed my expanded role not because they are inclined toward major changes, but rather a desire for a seamless transi-tion,” he explains. “My responsibilities will now include a more strategic view that will maintain the long-term traditions and culture of the foundation, and also embrace the interests of the more recent generations of the family. Various members of my extended family—including my parents, a sister, brother, and niece—are highly engaged board contributors and add considerable input toward our philanthropic efforts.”
In addition to his management roles at the Kirby Foundation, Dillard Kirby has served on nonprofit boards and committees in areas of the arts, education, health, and human services. He has also served on the board of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers. Like his father, Kirby is a graduate of Lafayette College.