Hear what our clients are saying.
The Gloria Dei Foundation
“Blest Be the Tie That Binds” begins a 1782 hymn on the importance of shared hearts and hopes in Christian service. Its message also well-represents the journey of The Gloria Dei Foundation.
As its name reflects, Gloria Dei exists for the “glory of God” in its philanthropic work. The foundation was founded in 2006 by Mary Cade and her husband, the late Dr. Bob Cade who was best known as the inventor of Gatorade Thirst® Quencher. Today, the Gloria Dei Foundation is administered by the extended family of Cade children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
As with many large families, different personalities and opinions had emerged and were taking a toll on what should be a joyful giving process. Emily Morrison, daughter of Mary and Bob Cade, noted that someone was needed to help bridge family dynamics, and thus began their relationship with Dawn Franks and Your Philanthropy.
“We realized that we need to have a specific person; it’s so worth it!” said Emily. “Dawn (Franks) can see all of the personalities of the family members and help navigate family conflicts.”
Connecting the family members with a giving strategy and procedural guidelines was a start, as The Gloria Dei Foundation moved to a by-invitation grants process. Equally important has been Dawn’s continual outreach to the individual board members, especially helping the younger trustees find their voice and giving priorities.
“If we didn’t have Dawn, they wouldn’t stay on the board,” said Emily of the young family members. For the older members, she noted, “We need that help so that we can step back, as the others learn and grow and make this work their own.”
As Gloria Dei seeks to follow Jesus Christ’s call to serve “the least of these,” its national giving focuses on Christian organizations and other nonprofits that promote the common good. The foundation itself is a testimony to the power of strong connections uniting faith, family and the values that established their founders’ generous legacy.
The Ben & Maytee Fisch Foundation
“The Ben & Maytee Fisch Foundation has been very fortunate to benefit from the incredible expertise of Dawn Franks and Your Philanthropy. Dawn’s knowledge of East Texas and its great nonprofit organizations (that do so much good for the region) has been invaluable to us. The ongoing guidance provided by Dawn has been instrumental in continuing the Foundation’s mission that my parents established to benefit the people of East Texas.”
Martee Fisch Fuerst
President, The Ben & Maytee Fisch Foundation
McGuire Family Foundation
For Jack McGuire of San Antonio, the opportunity to grow a family foundation truly had its roots in family. Based on proceeds from a partial business liquidation in 2001, Jack saw the opportunity to connect with his wife, son and daughter on a new level.
“This foundation gives me a forum to engage with my family in a way they never knew me,” he said. “It’s not so much about how many checks we write. The real excitement is to try to leave a legacy.”
After the first few years of operations, the McGuires realized the need to involve the family more actively in the foundation’s work, while also gaining more direction in its charitable giving. Through Exponent Philanthropy (at the time known as the Association of Small Foundations), they received information about Dawn Franks and Your Philanthropy.
“It was an interesting process,” noted Jack, explaining that the McGuire family members had differing levels of interest in the foundation. “Dawn took the time to acquaint herself with each family member and earned the trust of everyone. She did a wonderful job engaging with us.”
The foundation itself (while diligent in its finances and stewardship) had a somewhat informal operating style, sometimes varying from the checklist norms of other small foundations. “Dawn helped us very much in evaluating key issues. We now have a comfort zone with our way of operating,” said Jack. He added that part of the discovery process (with Dawn’s help) was that the foundation could expand its giving in a meaningful way through bigger gifts with more focus.
The journey of the McGuire Family Foundation has revealed the essence of “your philanthropy” and brought fulfillment to Jack McGuire. “We now know exactly what we’re doing,” he said, with confidence that the next generation will carry the foundation forward. While experiencing the gladness of giving, the ultimate joy for him has been the meaningful family time that truly defines his unique family foundation.
At age 25, Maxi Anderson is probably one of the youngest presidents of a family foundation. For her, though, this is a role she’s been training for all her life.
“I was taught that we are here to give back to the community and others,” said Maxi. “My parents wouldn’t be in the positions they are in if others hadn’t helped them. They want to leave a legacy with their family.”
Her parents – Dr. Sasha Vukelja and Dr. Larry Anderson – are both prominent physicians in the Tyler, Texas, medical community. Maxi and her brother, Boris, have grown up in their spirit of sharing and caring for others. Now, they are making their own mark as Anderson-Vukelja Foundation trustees.
Founded in 2012, the Anderson-Vukelja Foundation has a long history with Dawn Franks and Your Philanthropy. “She’s been important by helping us, holding our hand,” noted Maxi. This has included family foundation education and guidance, such as the decision to go to an invitation-only grant-making system. The Your Philanthropy team also assists with nonprofit information, website development and other essential needs.
“Knowing that we are making a difference and helping others” makes this family foundation meaningful to Maxi. Of special significance to her was the endowment it established at the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma, her alma mater. In general, the Anderson-Vukelja Foundation focuses its giving on health, education and human services, especially projects ensuring the personal growth of individuals for their own success.
Regarding young people and philanthropy, Maxi advises that “you have to start somewhere. Our generation provides a new and fresh perspective, and millennials like to be hands-on in their philanthropic work.” She adds, “Don’t be intimidated; know what to do, and keep the legacy going.”
Louis and Peaches Owen Foundation
Couples who reach their 55th wedding anniversary might enjoy a festive family celebration or maybe a wonderful vacation. The late Louis and Peaches Owen, however, found a visionary way to make a memory. In 2010, they provided an $18 million gift to establish the Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital within CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, Texas.
With this gift, the Owens began formalizing a family foundation based on unexpected wealth achieved as the engineering firm founded by Louis went public. Since they already had solid plans in place to fund their future retirement, Louis and Peaches turned to their faith and values to put their assets to use.
“They knew that everything we get is a gift from God,” said their daughter, Celeste Owen Rekieta. “It’s our duty to steward those gifts, and with more responsibility comes more stewardship. That’s how we were raised.”
Dawn Franks has been advising and directing the Owen family and its foundation since its inception. “She has been there the whole way in guiding us, keeping us on course,” said Celeste, adding that their professional relationship has developed into a strong friendship over the years.
“Dawn helps you figure out what your agenda is and define it,” noted Celeste. “She’s very good. She doesn’t try to steer you or put her personal agenda ahead of yours. We’re blessed that God has put her in our path.”
In her foundation management role, Dawn also tactfully represents the Owen Family Foundation, as she explains the foundation’s limits and scope to charities seeking grants. Celeste noted that other members of the Your Philanthropy team are also instrumental to the grant-making program, saying “they are great, really good.”
Celeste and her two brothers were grown, with families of their own, at the time the Owen Family Foundation was created. Therefore, one of the top priorities of Louis and Peaches was to instill the joy of giving into the seven grandchildren.
“Aside from the Foundation’s grant program, they allocated $1,500 each year for each grandchild to explore causes and make gifts to no more than three charities,” explained Celeste. “Later on, with the help of Dawn, a rotating ‘grandchild seat’ was started on the foundation board.”
Today, the Owen family members enjoy being part of a circle of giving, as their own lives are enhanced through the foundation’s outreach. This includes the relationships formed with grantee agencies and site visits (as far away as Africa) to see their funding work in action. “The more you give, the more you get in return!” said Celeste of their charitable giving. “It’s comforting to know that these agencies are doing such a great job helping people.”
Her parents – who instilled the virtues of faith, family and stewardship – would be proud.
“Giving in our community was part of our DNA on both sides,” said Lou Anne King Jensen. As co-founders of the Chrest Foundation, Lou Anne and Jeff Jensen bring their financial and personal resources to the role of doing good. In fact, each of the five siblings in Jeff’s family has started their own foundation, based on earlier opportunities to invest in business enterprises that did well.
“I was finishing my master’s degree in social work as Jeff and I started to explore an international approach to our giving in 2000,” explained Lou Anne. “Then, 9/11 took place. It just seemed like reaching out to different cultures was a really good thing to do at that time.”
“Chrest” was chosen as the name of the foundation due to its general meaning of goodwill. The Jensens’ plan was to develop relationships and friendships, while maximizing the impact of a family foundation. They ultimately chose Turkey for their focus after previous travel to the Mediterranean area, including Turkey, for family holidays as well as an international conference regarding social initiatives.
In starting their philanthropic outreach in Turkey, the Jensens realized that communities themselves know best. Therefore, the Chrest Foundation’s giving in Turkey has been directed to local, underserved areas with a focus on programs promoting gender equality and those fostering dialogue through arts and culture. Representatives of the foundation actively communicate with a range of civil society organizations, Turkish government officials, and members of the academic and business communities.
By 2017, with the growth of the Chrest Foundation’s endowment, Lou Anne and Jeff entered into discussion with their adult children about the foundation’s potential going forward. The result: The Chrest Foundation is now continuing its focus on Turkey while adding the U.S. causes of criminal justice reform and the environment to its giving platform.
With this expanded direction, Dawn Franks and Your Philanthropy came into the fold. “As our foundation got bigger and the family became more engaged, it was good to have someone I could talk to – someone of my generation,” said Lou Anne of Dawn. “With her experience, she was able to articulate high-level concepts to me in a meaningful way.”
Lou Anne noted that the foundation was struggling with a mission statement that would reflect its three different areas of philanthropic focus. “Dawn finally convinced us that it was okay to have three program areas without an umbrella mission statement,” she said.
“A lot of boards aren’t that engaged, but that’s not the way our family works,” added Lou Anne. “We came up with their program areas, and I’m grateful they are involved.”