July 6, 2010

Campaign Emory

Women are leaders in philanthropy

When it comes to philanthropy, women are a driving force behind where, when and how much money is given in the United States.

Currently, women control more than half of the private wealth in the U.S., according to In part because on average women live longer than men, women also will be the decision makers in most of the $41 trillion intergenerational transfer of wealth over the next 50 years, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Women also are more philanthropic than men, giving away more than 3.5 percent of their wealth compared to 1.8 percent for men, according to a 2009 Barclays Wealth study titled “Tomorrow’s Philanthropist.”

Recently, Emory’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations hosted a “Women in Philanthropy” event with a panel of prominent female Emory philanthropists. On the panel were Ada Lee Correll, Campaign Emory volunteer chair for the Emory School of Medicine who, with her husband, A.D. “Pete” Correll, has been a long time Emory supporter; Amy Rollins Kreisler, executive director of the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation; Isabel Garcia ’99L, a member of the Emory Alumni Board and an Emory Law supporter; and Marie Brumley Foster and Nancy Brumley Robitaille, leaders of the Zeist Foundation, which was founded by their late father, George Brumley, beloved former head of Emory pediatrics.

“Women have gained more of a presence in every walk of life within my lifetime,” Correll says. “Women have gained respect, and that leads to many opportunities. Women have grown up with philanthropy, so why wouldn’t women be in charge of foundations and in control of a lot of charitable dollars?”

Kreisler’s father and uncle, Randall and Gary Rollins, carried on their parents’ tradition of philanthropy at Rollins School of Public Health and passed that legacy on to their own children. Kreisler says she, her siblings and cousins are now passing it on to the fourth generation of Rollins philanthropists.

“It is important to me to give back to those causes that are important to me. As you get older, your motivation changes and your interests change, and with that you see more opportunities for philanthropy,” Kreisler says.

Foster and Robitaille were formally introduced to philanthropy at a young age when their parents talked to them and their siblings about what they were interested in and how to wisely choose organizations to support.

“It helped us to look beyond the philanthropic relationships our family already had and to see where we could reach farther,” Foster says.

An organization’s culture and a feeling of connection are important when choosing what causes to support, Garcia says.

“My mother always says that philanthropy is not an extracurricular activity; it is a lifestyle. When we got our allowance as children, we were expected to put some of it in a bank account, and at the end of the year we picked a charity to give it to. Things like that resonate,” she says. “If philanthropy is writing a check, then you don’t get it.”

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