The majority of us take a kind of false satisfaction out of the fact that we would not take part in such riots or in the perennial beatings and lynchings of the South. But we overlook the manner in which, with our warped ideas of our own superiority and of the alleged inferiority of others because they are somehow different, we help to create and maintain an atmosphere of intolerance… We permit and even demand that our federal government erect barriers against refugees from war-town countries – the very sort of people for whom America was established as a refuge and from among whom our ancestors were drawn. We forget that refugees have always brought more in wealth than they required and that they have immeasurably enriched our national heritage and our economic life.
Marshall Field III, Founder
Field Foundation (1893-1956)
A L E T T E R F R O M O U R P R E S I D E N T
Welcome to a new year, a new decade and the 80th anniversary of the Field Foundation.
Most often milestone moments happen quietly. Our breath suddenly catches as new ideas dawn, leaving us changed irrevocably. Laugh lines deepen and memories turn static and fade, not on our birthdays but imperceptibly with each passing day, a bit with every sunrise and sunset. We live in constant, overlapping experiences. We’ve turned right, left, cut through an alley and somehow, we’ve aged, we’ve moved, we’ve suffered deep loss and seen new vibrant lives emerge. We’ve made mistakes, and more mistakes and then enjoyed a great meal and laughed carelessly and loudly with people we love.
And sometimes we are given the gift of a clear milestone—a graduation, a retirement, an anniversary. At Field, we aren’t as interested in celebrating our anniversary with fanfare and confetti—although that does sound delightful as I type it.
Instead, we see this new year, new decade, eightieth year of existing as a mandate to take a moment to pause. A solitary bench on the ever-unfolding path by the lake. A place to lay down our pack, rest for a moment to think about all the people who’ve built the route we’ve traveled as a Foundation, all the luminaries the Foundation has been lucky to invest in that lit our way, all the scenery changed and unchanged as we’ve traveled throughout the years.
There have been many iterations of the Field Foundation—guided thoughtfully by our founder and past board and staff members, a steady parade of brilliant interns and fellows, different program officers forging trusting relationships with the visionaries in the nonprofit sector. There have been heated debates in the board room, mind expanding site visits leaving decades of program officers changed, thoughtful investment strategies deployed in both bull and bear markets that have led to successful returns on mission in addition to dollars and meaningful partnerships across sectors forged.
There have been crises in our city, recessions in our nation, many a politician imprisoned, losses of important nonprofits and scaling of initiatives that Field took a chance on by funding first.
In 2020 we will visit with some of those individuals from Field Foundation’s journey who have played an irrevocable role in shaping who we are today. Look for these reflections in Voices from the Field a recurring column for this year only in upcoming eblasts.
As always we are honored to be on the odyssey with each of you, as you continue to prod us to do our best thinking, to keep our wits about us, to be in awe of the city that surrounds us and to center the people, the people, the people—as they are the ones who matter, who make change, and who set the course for our next eighty years of travel.
And to close…I want to share a personal reflection on our founder Marshall Field III—from his grandson, longtime Field board member and current Life Director Marshall Field V. It was written last year for inclusion in an upcoming book about the Gettysburg Address. One of the few original copies of the Gettysburg Address was purchased by Illinois school children whose dollars were matched by Marshall Field III and then donated to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Museum in Springfield.
There are so many pieces of the below reflection I love, chief among them is hearing Marshall’s voice so strongly as he brings both of these gentlemen to life in warm, vivid colors.
Here’s to the next eighty years,
Angelique Power, President
The Field Foundation