Charting a Course for Change through Women-funded Philanthropy
Anne Earhart, Regan Pritzker, and Stacy Schusterman discuss the causes they care about, what motivates them to give, and their visions for the future of philanthropy, society, and the planet
As wealthy women in America make more multimillion-dollar gifts, they are reshaping philanthropy — giving with fewer strings attached and to causes and groups that were often overlooked in the past.
In the Chronicle of Philanthropy webinar Women Philanthropists: Charting a Course for Change, three recipients of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy — Anne Earhart, founder of the Marisla Foundation; Regan Pritzker, cofounder of the Kataly Foundation; and Stacy Schusterman, chair of Charles and Lynn Shusterman Family Philanthropies — joined editor Stacy Palmer to discuss the causes they care about, what motivates them to give, and their visions for the future of philanthropy, society, and the planet.
The 2022 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy honorees — Manu Chandaria, Lyda Hill, Dolly Parton, Lynn Schusterman, and Stacy Schusterman — were announced during the webinar. Additionally, World Central Kitchen was named the first-ever winner of the Carnegie Catalyst Award, which recognizes a nonprofit organization that has been exceptionally effective in catalyzing people’s desire to help one another during times of crisis.
Giving that is hands-on, savvy, proactive, transformational
On the centenary of his death, Andrew Carnegie’s revolutionary vision of philanthropy is more relevant than ever — and the outstanding philanthropists honored at The New York Public Library on a rainy October afternoon with the 2019 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy are inspiring examples of that vital truth. Yes, these incredibly generous men and women are helping to make the world smarter, cleaner, healthier, and safer today, each in their own way. But it is the very human stories that come out of their giving that move us so profoundly. And what stories they are! In the portfolio of striking photographs that follow, we meet some of the beneficiaries of the “class” of 2019’s philanthropy, and we can read a bit of their remarkable stories in their own words. Master of ceremonies Judy Woodruff put it this way: “This is always such an uplifting event — one that restores my confidence in the difference each one of us can make. Throughout this ceremony, we will hear stories of people whose lives have been made better due to the generosity of this year’s medalists. Each of these stories represents just one small example of the wide-ranging impact and lasting legacy their philanthropy will leave behind.”
Advancing Global Peace: Hillary Clinton and William J. Burns in Conversation
From informed and provocative perspectives, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State, discussed the outlook for advancing global peace during a conversation with William J. Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The keynote was part of the Second Carnegie Peacebuilding Conversations, a daylong forum hosted by the Carnegie family of institutions on October 15, 2019, with the goal of exploring the causes and consequences of global conflicts and identifying pathways to a more peaceful world.
In commemoration of the centenary of Andrew Carnegie’s death, the convening was intended to build on the philanthropist’s legacy as a peacebuilder through discussions on topics such as nuclear security, climate change, and artificial intelligence.
Carnegie Family, Institutions Mark 100 Years Since Philanthropist’s Passing
The centennial of Andrew Carnegie’s passing was commemorated by ceremonial wreath-layings on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in the town of his birth and at Carnegie’s burial site. Held on Sunday, August 11, in Carnegie’s hometown of Dunfermline, Scotland, and organized by the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, the first memorial took place in Pittencrieff Park, a 76-acre park that Carnegie was banned from as a child but later purchased in 1902 and gifted to the people of Dunfermline.
After a piper led a procession down High Street and through the ornate gates named for Carnegie’s wife, Louise, about 75 people gathered in front of the park’s nine-foot-tall bronze statue of Andrew Carnegie. Led by Carnegie Dunfermline Trust Chairman Ian Wilson and trustees, the attendees included many representatives from the international family of Carnegie institutions. “We meet in a place that was of huge significance to Andrew Carnegie, for from childhood, in his mind, Pittencrieff Park was the image of paradise,” said Rev. MaryAnne Rennie, the minister of the Abbey Church of Dunfermline.
“His purchase of the park in 1902 and gifting it to bring ‘sweetness and light’ to the people of Dunfermline ensured that every child would be able to have more than ‘a peep’ at what lay behind the walls. Those who are here recognize that Carnegie’s passion for people was not limited to Dunfermline,” she said, citing the philanthropist’s local and worldwide legacy.
The sky was overcast, but the rain held off until after all six wreaths were laid at the base of the statue. Carnegie’s great-grandson, William Thomson, and Carnegie Corporation of New York President Vartan Gregorian were among those laying wreaths.
A month later across the Atlantic, Gregorian presided over a second wreath-laying at Carnegie’s grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, located along the Hudson River just north of New York City. Staff and trustees of Carnegie Corporation of New York attended the graveside memorial service on Friday, September 13.
“We thank you very much for your generosity, for your vision, and for your humanity,” Gregorian said, addressing the philanthropist’s tombstone, in a moving tribute. “We try to do justice to your vision and your legacy. We are fully aware that we are guardians of your legacy and your mission.”
Stained Glass from Tiffany Studio Installed in Dunfermline, a Century Later than Expected
The ceremonial activities performed on a long summer day in Andrew Carnegie’s hometown of Dunfermline, Scotland were 106 years in the making.
On Monday, August 12, a century-old debate was put to rest when Carnegie’s longtime wish to install a 11.5 by 7 foot Carnegie Tiffany window at the Abbey Church of Dunfermline was fulfilled at a ceremony attended by friends, institutions, and members of the Carnegie family. “Like Carnegie himself, the story of this window represents commitment, determination, innovation, change, vision, and some controversy,” said William Thomson, Carnegie’s great-grandson, at the ceremony.
“It is also a beautiful work of art and its future destiny touches many beyond Dunfermline,” Thomson continued. “I am therefore honored on behalf of the descendants of Andrew Carnegie and his working trusts and institutions to see this window gifted on his behalf to the Abbey Church of Dunfermline, where it will stand as he wished in memory of his family, amongst the other stained-glass windows of this historic venue.”
In 1913 Carnegie commissioned the famous Tiffany Studios of New York to create a stained-glass window to memorialize his family and hang in the Abbey Church in Dunfermline, but his plans were quickly thwarted. The dean of Dunfermline Abbey and His Majesty’s Commission for Ancient Monuments denied Carnegie’s wish, declaring the window “unecclesiastical and too modern,” according to Diane Shaw, Special Collections cataloguer with the Smithsonian Libraries, writing in Britain’s newspaper The Independent.
Shaw added that “while Carnegie apparently believed that the beautiful landscape depicted in the window expressed the glories of God with a sense of religious emotion, the administrators of the Abbey complained that the window was ‘an anachronism and inharmonious with the rest of the edifice.’”
Although unusual for its intended ecclesiastical setting, the art nouveau-style window stunningly depicts a landscape of trees framing mountains, a river, and flowering rhododendrons, all made of the colored Favrile glass patented by Tiffany in 1894.
During its banishment from the abbey, the window had several homes — first in storage in a cellar, later in Dunfermline’s Carnegie Hall (where it was eventually covered over because the light shining through detracted from stage performances), then in a display case in the concert hall’s restaurant. After a major restoration in 2008, the window was moved to the office of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, where it was available for viewing by request only.
Recently when the window’s latest need for repair coincided with the 100th anniversary of Carnegie’s death, proposals were made to install it in the Abbey Church at last.
Ian Wilson, chairman of both the Carnegie Dunfermline and Hero Fund trusts, said, “The window has had a checkered history since it originally arrived in Dunfermline, presenting many challenges of conservation and physical support along the way, resulting in long periods of storage and rest — at one point spending nearly a quarter of a century in storage in the cellar below the Carnegie Swimming Baths and for another lengthy period it was covered in blackout curtains in the Carnegie Hall because it was giving odd reflections from the stage lighting.”
He added: “Therefore, finding the right environment, in every sense, to ensure its accessibility and sustainability for posterity has been paramount to all of us who have cared for the window over the years.”
Stained-glass conservator Mark Bambrough, of Scottish Glass Studio, one of just a handful of such experts in the U.K., spent 10 months with a team of two others repairing, strengthening, and touching up the window before installing it in its new — and intended — home.
Stained-glass windows are typically made of a single layer of transparent glass that’s painted with details on the surface. Tiffany, instead, used up to four layers of opaque glass to depict images. But the result of the Tiffany technique is very heavy windows that need shoring up by experts like Bambrough.
After his restoration project, he and his team installed the window in the abbey, using a system that would allow the window to sit six millimeters above the sill so it has room to sag but is prevented from buckling outward. “Far more people now are going to get the opportunity of seeing a creative piece of art by one of the greatest glass studios in the world,” said Bambrough.
At the dedication ceremony, Thomson summed up the significance of the work’s new home: “The window is now in the place [my great grandfather] intended, and hopefully will be a source of peace, reflection, and inspiration for many years to come.”
Historic Scottish Backdrop for Announcement of Nine Recipients of Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy
By Celeste Ford
Steps away from the modest cottage where Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1835, the international family of Carnegie institutions gathered on August 12 to honor its founder’s philanthropic legacy with the announcement of the 2019 class of Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy recipients.
Rich with symbolism, the event took place at the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, which Ian Wilson, chair of the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, noted is widely considered the cradle of modern philanthropy. The announcement came a day after a wreath-laying ceremony commemorated the 100th anniversary of the death of Andrew Carnegie, whose ideals continue to endure, resonate, and inspire new generations of philanthropists, including the 2019 medalists.
“The nine medalists, who we are announcing today, embody Andrew Carnegie’s spirit of giving, each having had a significant and lasting impact on a particular field, on a nation, or on the international community,” said William Thomson CBE, great-grandson of Andrew Carnegie and honorary chair of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy selection committee. “Among the most charitable and visionary philanthropists in the world, the medalists’ generosity has influenced a wide range of issues, including education, the environment, scientific research, arts and culture, healthcare, and technology.”
Speaking on behalf of the entire selection committee, Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, said, “Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller created the concept of scientific philanthropy, which meant don’t give with pity and sympathy alone. Give with intelligence by investing in causes that will better humanity and leave a great living memorial.”
Gregorian pointed out that Andrew Carnegie stands alongside Adam Smith and other great thinkers produced by the small region of Scotland whose flourishing of ideas contributed to the Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Since the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy was established in 2001, three Scots have been named: Sir Tom Farmer (2005), Sir Tom Hunter (2013), and now Sir Ian Wood, founder of The Wood Foundation, who made a special appearance for the announcement.
“I feel very fortunate and humbled to be one of the recipients of this medal and recognize this not so much as a personal success but as a reflection of the support of my family and the great Wood Foundation team,” said Sir Ian, after being named a recipient of the 2019 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. “It is also testament to the many tens of thousands of people whom we have helped through our programs and investments, who have been open and willing to learn, stand on their own feet, and help themselves.”
Sir Ian said he is especially proud of a Wood Foundation program called the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative, which introduces Scottish high school students to philanthropy in their communities as well as an economic development program underway in Rwanda and Tanzania that helps grow and sustain the tea industry by working with smallholder tea farmers.
The Corporation will feature the philanthropic missions of all nine medal recipients on October 16, 2019, at The New York Public Library, itself one of Andrew Carnegie’s earliest beneficiaries and a popular example of one of his most enduring gifts: the construction of 2,500 libraries worldwide.
NEW YORK — He ranks with the outstanding immigrants of America who have risen to great heights in designing the intellectual landscape of this country. Especially noteworthy is his special commitment to the arts, education, and humanity through philanthropy.
On Monday evening, June 10, 2019, former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg presented Dr. Vartan Gregorian with the coveted Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence for his many accomplishments and his inspiring story. The event commemorated both New York City’s festival of migration as well as the 100th anniversary of the passing of another legendary immigrant, Andrew Carnegie.
More than 230 people braved all-day thunderstorms to attend this gala presentation at the elegant Grand Ballroom of New York’s Plaza Hotel. This extraordinary event raised $1.9 million for Carnegie Hall’s program of music education and social impact projects.
Every year more than 600,000 students, teachers, and individuals are served through these programs.
Among the prominent guests present were top officials of Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Starr Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the Stephen Kellen Foundation, as well as former New York governor George Pataki, former New Jersey governor Tom Kean, PBS television news anchor Judy Woodruff, and Caroline Kennedy.
Also attending were several well-known Armenian dignitaries, including Varuzhan Nersesyan, Armenia’s ambassador to the United States; Mher Margaryan, Armenia’s ambassador to the United Nations; and Garen Nazarian, Armenia’s ambassador to the Vatican. Philanthropists Ruben Vardanyan, Noubar Afeyan, Aso Tavitian, Garo Armen, Edward Avedisian, and Sarkis Jebejian also attended.
As the guests filed into the ornately decorated Grand Ballroom, replete with huge baskets of ferns and branches hanging from the frescoed ceiling, there was an air of palpable excitement.
A Stellar Trajectory
The host, Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, in calling Gregorian “a great educator, leader, and philanthropic visionary,” added, “Vartan’s story is a reminder of what is possible with remarkable talent, tireless dedication, and limitless imagination. No one is more deserving of this honor.”
The speaker revealed to the elite, mostly non-Armenian audience that the honoree was born to Armenian parents in Tabriz, Iran. “His maternal grandmother Vosky being his greatest teacher and inspiration. She encouraged him to pursue his studies in Beirut at 15 years of age.” (Vosky means “gold” in Armenian.)
The two greatest lessons he learned from his grandmother Vosky were “dignity is not negotiable,” said Gillinson, and that “one must do good without expectation of reward.” Amidst a tumultuous childhood, the speaker continued, “Vartan found refuge in the Armenian library above the local archbishop’s residence.”
When he came to this country at age 22, he knew virtually no English. Attending Stanford University, education had become the cornerstone of his life from an early age.
He quickly advanced, and his storied career included Gregorian becoming the second foreign-born provost of the University of Pennsylvania, the first foreign-born president of The New York Public Library, the first foreign-born president of an Ivy League university (Brown), and later the president of Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Noted historian Robert Caro, with humor, described how Gregorian brought The New York Public Library “back to life,” how he advanced education at Brown University with “warm communication,” and how he “embodies the true spirit of generosity as a philanthropist.”
PBS news anchor Judy Woodruff recalled her 20-year friendship with the honoree, describing him as “this handsome bear of a man, with his big smile and open arms who used to bound into my office, giving of himself. He made a huge impact on public media, especially PBS, and he has been a man of inspiration, boundless energy, and special warmth both with the powerful and the not powerful.”
World-famous violinist Pinchas Zukerman, accompanied by Canadian pianist Bryan Wagorn, delighted the guests with several classical and popular selections.
Former mayor Bloomberg, in awarding the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence to the honoree, stated that Andrew Carnegie and Vartan Gregorian “are alike, both as extraordinary immigrants, in helping others, as gifted writers, and in reshaping philanthropy. As an optimist and a realist, Vartan knows how to bring people together.”
In expressing his gratitude, first to his late beloved wife, Clare, his family, and to all who made the evening possible, Vartan Gregorian, who is the recipient of 75 honorary degrees and 19 medals, said with obvious emotion that “this medal is the sweetest, happiest medal I have ever received.”
He revealed that he has tried to shape his life to legendary writer Alexis de Tocqueville’s principles of democracy. Then, revealing his deeply held belief, he declared, “Any wealthy person who has died rich did not have the sense on how to invest for the people,” bringing the huge crowd to a standing ovation.
Following the celebratory occasion, many attendees were anxious to reveal their feelings.
Former governor George Pataki declared, “There is no better public servant than Vartan Gregorian.”
Dr. Levon Nazarian, representing the philanthropic Nazarian family, asked rhetorically, “What Armenian has achieved more in America than Vartan?”
Dr. Raffi Hovanessian commented, “As a nation, we are being honored.”
Ruben Vardanyan called Gregorian “my mentor.”
Judy Woodruff gushed, “I am in such awe of this man that I have been privileged to know for 20 years.”
Noubar Afeyan noted, “If he wasn’t Armenian, and if I didn’t know him, I would still be here.”
Aso Tavitian declared, “I feel honored to be where he is honored.”
Sarkis Jebejian was “so proud of how highly respected Vartan is in all communities and cultures.”
And Vartan Gregorian, the man of the hour himself, humbly commented, “This is Carnegie’s honor.”
Carnegie Corporation of New York recognized for longstanding support of Sesame Workshop, the Tenement Museum, and the Institute for International Education
It was a celebratory spring for Carnegie Corporation of New York. Three important grantee organizations marked significant milestones, giving special recognition to the Corporation for its role in their founding and for its president, Vartan Gregorian.
Sesame Celebrating 50 Years of Children’s Educational Programming
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, celebrated 50 years of groundbreaking work helping children to grow “smarter, stronger, and kinder,” and its global social impact work with a star-studded event in May in New York City. Former first lady Michelle Obama was honored with the Joan Ganz Cooney Award, named for Sesame Street’s founder. The anniversary gala featured special appearances by John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Oliver, Hoda Kotb and the Sesame Street Muppets, with honorees spanning the organization’s past, present, and future.
“When I became first lady, and I knew that I wanted to help kids reach their potential, my first question was a simple but familiar one: Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?” Obama said upon accepting the award. “I cannot tell you how proud and thankful I am to come here tonight as a Sesame Street partner. You are always ahead of the curve, always out there observing, and learning, and creating new ways to help kids and parents navigate the world around them.”
At the gala, Ford Foundation president Darren Walker and Corporation president Vartan Gregorian received a joint Visionary Award for the pivotal role the two foundations played in the development of Sesame Workshop and public television itself in the 1960s.
“In 1969 the audacious philanthropy of Carnegie Corporation and Ford Foundation made the creation of Sesame Street possible, helping to improve the lives of millions of less advantaged children around the world,” said Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop’s president of social impact and philanthropy. “Fifty years later, we’re thrilled that similarly bold commitments from the MacArthur Foundation and the LEGO Foundation are helping us give millions of displaced children the tools they need to thrive.”
In acknowledgement of their historic gift, Julia Stasch, president of the MacArthur Foundation, said its $100 million contribution aims to help Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee bring early childhood education to children affected by refugee crises. LEGO Foundation CEO John Goodwin accepted the Innovation Award for his organization’s commitment to supporting displaced children through the power of playful learning.
All of Sesame Workshop’s social impact work — from providing early learning to millions of children affected by the Syrian and Rohingya refugee crises to addressing tough topics like homelessness and foster care in the United States — is made possible with the support of partners like the Corporation. The gala raised more than $4.5 million, helping Sesame Workshop reach children and families in more than 150 countries, including areas where children have no other access to quality early education.
“Sesame Street had a profound impact on children’s media, setting a template that the industry has followed for generations,” said Lloyd Morrisett, Sesame Workshop’s cofounder. “Fifty years later, Sesame Workshop continues to deliver on its mission every day, across multiple platforms, on six continents. We started as an experiment — and it worked.”
New York’s Tenement Museum Looks Ahead
Also in May, the Tenement Museum in New York, which advances understanding of the immigrant experience and highlights the role that immigration has played in American history, honored Corporation president Gregorian, along with educator and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and philanthropist Stephen Siegel, at its 2019 gala, held in Manhattan.
Tenement Museum trustee Nicole Howe Buggs, who also leads the Corporation’s information technology and grants management departments, delivered a moving speech recalling her own family’s immigration from Trinidad, and introduced Gregorian, an immigrant of Armenian descent from Iran, recognizing his work on behalf of immigrants.
“Much like the museum, Vartan brings the American immigration story to life,” Howe Buggs said. “He reminds us of the connection between the past and today, the crucial role immigrants play in strengthening our democracy, and he provides insight on how past events help us unlock and decipher current events as well as prepare us for what lies ahead.”
“While America is not perfect, it is perfectible.”
— Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York
She added that during Gregorian’s tenure as president, the Corporation has awarded more than 300 grants, totaling more than $150 million, in support of immigrant civic integration.
Gregorian reminded the crowd that “While America is not perfect, it is perfectible.”
Later in the evening, Tenement Museum president Kevin Jennings spoke about the role the museum has begun to play in the national conversation on immigration since the launch of its five-year strategic plan at the previous year’s gala.
“Our goal is to reach millions, not thousands, with our message, and to help change the terms of the national debate on immigration,” he said.
IIE: Shaping Scholarship Around the World
In February more than 500 leaders from higher education, government, and diplomacy gathered in New York City for three days to explore the future of international education. The summit was one of several programs that celebrated the centennial anniversary of the Institute for International Education (IIE), an organization known for its prestigious Fulbright scholarship program and supported by the Corporation since its inception 100 years ago.
The IIE is the leading global organization administering some of the world’s most inclusive and innovative programs in international education and exchange, including the Fulbright Programs of the U.S. State Department, the Language Flagship of the U.S. Defense Department, and the Ford International Fellowships Program. IIE was one of the first advocates for international exchange, pioneering new models of collaboration among colleges and universities across the globe.
“There is no better way to foster diplomatic relations than through people-to-people exchange,” said IIE chairman Thomas S. Johnson at the event. “IIE’s century-long investment in international education makes the world a safer and more interconnected place, creating stronger global ties and enhancing mutual understanding among nations.”
At IIE’s centennial celebration events, former British prime minister Gordon Brown received the Henry Kaufman Prize, and Corporation president Gregorian, a former trustee of IIE, accepted a Centennial Medal on behalf of the Corporation. “This is one of the hopes of all educators: that with understanding you can solve differences and build alliances,” said Gregorian.
Over the past 100 years, IIE programs have aided thousands of scholars, students, and artists threatened by conflict and turmoil in their home countries. By providing refuge to imperiled scholars, the IIE has helped shape scholarship around the world. “This is an organization that is very much about using education as a diplomacy tool to make the world a better place,” said IIE vice chairman Mark Angelson.
Carnegie pride on display at New York’s 20th annual Tartan Day Parade
Every day, all over the world, Andrew Carnegie’s legacy and teachings are being put into action through the many Carnegie organizations and initiatives founded more than a century ago by the philanthropist. Yet, on a recent Saturday in April, the “Star-Spangled Scotsman,” as he proudly called himself, could be seen walking jauntily up Sixth Avenue with thousands of his fellow Scottish Americans. Well, at least a papier-mâché head of Andrew Carnegie, that is.
Artist and Carnegie Corporation of New York employee Virginia Mallon-Ackerman created and donned the larger-than-life papier-mâché head of Andrew Carnegie complete with tuxedo, lending some frivolity to New York’s Tartan Day Parade. The Andrew Carnegie mascot marched alongside nearly 60 representatives of various Carnegie organizations, including Corporation president Vartan Gregorian.
“It was good fun,” said Mallon-Ackerman, who drew inspiration from Mardi Gras, Mummers, and New York parade costumes to create her “jolly” likeness of Carnegie for the event.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of New York’s Tartan Day Parade, organized by the American-Scottish Foundation and part of the city’s Tartan Week celebrations. And given that 2019 marks the centennial of Andrew Carnegie’s death, it seemed like a fitting year for members of the Carnegie family of institutions to come together and rally around the heritage of their founder, one of the most impactful Scottish Americans who has ever lived.
“It was another way to show the Carnegie pride; to let the world know that we’re not just Carnegie Hall and Carnegie Corporation, but that there are a number of Carnegie organizations out there,” said Corporation chief of staff Jeanne D’Onofrio, who coordinated the efforts.
“It was a beautiful day and a really fun event with Scottish terrier dogs in kilts, bagpipes, and drum bands, and a quite a few Scottish American organizations we didn’t know existed. It was great exposure for us within the Scottish American community.”
Kilt Trip Thousands participated in New York’s annual Tartan Day Parade on April 6, part of a weeklong celebration of Scottish culture and heritage. The line of march included New York Caledonian Pipe Band, Shot of Scotch Dancers, 21st Century Kilts, Highland Divas and Friends, and proud representatives of the Carnegie family of institutions, including Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Hall. Highlights of this gallery include: top row, second from left: Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, with (on his right) Jeanne D’Onofrio, Corporation chief of staff, and Natasha Davids, executive assistant to the president; and bottom row, second from left: the genial man of the hour himself, Andrew Carnegie! … Actually, it’s the Corporation’s Virginia Mallon-Ackerman, the talented artist who designed — and wore — the giant head of the Corporation’s founder, becoming the de facto parade marshal for her contingent. (Photos: Celeste Ford)
The Carnegie organizations that marched included Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Hall, and Carnegie Mellon University, with others there in spirit.
The Corporation’s principal design director, Daniel Kitae Um, conjured up flags, kerchiefs, a banner, and even pom-poms in a design that combined the world peace tartan with the Carnegie Medal tartan, creating a waving sea of light blue, purple, and yellow among the contingent. They walked behind a banner emblazoned with a quote from Andrew Carnegie: “The whole world moves, and moves in the right direction — upward and onward.”
“It was wonderful to see Carnegie Corporation, led by Vartan Gregorian, join other Carnegie organizations on Sixth Avenue and march in the New York Tartan Day Parade,” said Camilla G. Hellman, president of the American-Scottish Foundation.
“Although they had not marched in the parade before,” Hellman continued, “Carnegie Corporation has been involved and helpful in the programming that the American-Scottish Foundation has done around Tartan Week, from an exhibit and panel discussion (led by Gregorian) on Andrew Carnegie at the Finance Museum to a previous talk we had done around The Scots who Built New York project.”
The Corporation has also worked closely with the American-Scottish Foundation on other projects over the years, such as a recent lecture by historian and architect John Kinnear entitled “The Scots Who Built New York: Andrew Carnegie’s Contributions to Architecture and the Promotion of Ideas, 1855–1919.” The talk was a part of Carnegie Hall’s ambitious Migrations festival, which explored how the history of America is indelibly linked to the movement of people, some not brought here of their own free will, whose perseverance and resilience transformed the nation.
D’Onofrio says that she sees this year’s Tartan Day Parade march as the start of a tradition for the Corporation. “Whenever there is an opportunity to get the Carnegie organizations together, we try and make it happen. We’re already talking about floats and costumes for next year.”
And that papier-mâché Andrew Carnegie? He’s bound to bring more joy in public appearances down the line, but for now he’s resting in Vartan’s office.
Pathbreaker: Charting Andrew Carnegie’s Life and Legacy in the Hall That He Built
A new exhibition follows the remarkable journey of the young factory boy who used his prodigious gifts to become the most prominent philanthropist of his time
Andrew Carnegie: His Life and Legacy
On view through October 31, 2019 at the Rose Museum at Carnegie Hall
154 West 57th Street (at Seventh Avenue), 2nd floor
Hours: open seven days a week, 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
(Also available evenings to Stern Auditorium concert patrons)
“He’s an enigma,” says Gino Francesconi with both intensity and wonderment. “The more I get to know him, the more elusive he becomes to me.” Francesconi has spent some time getting to know Andrew Carnegie. As archivist and director of the Rose Museum at Carnegie Hall, he has curated Andrew Carnegie: His Life and Legacy, the museum’s first exhibition about the hall’s founder, on display through the end of October 2019 in celebration of the centennial of Andrew Carnegie’s death.
Francesconi has spent his entire career under the roof of one of Carnegie’s greatest cultural contributions, starting off as an usher at Carnegie Hall 45 years ago. “I worked my way down from the balcony,” he jokes, referring to the Rose Museum’s location on the second floor.
In preparation for the exhibition, Francesconi spent a year researching, interviewing family members, poring over biographies, and digging through archival documents, vintage photographs, and historical artifacts. The resulting display deftly charts Carnegie’s journey from humble beginnings in Dunfermline, Scotland, to his position as the most prominent philanthropist of his time, a story unfolding across two 13-foot exhibition cases in the museum — a tight space for such an extraordinary life.
Many parts of Carnegie’s rags-to-riches story hardly seem credible. The early poverty. The grueling 10-week journey, by boat, ferry, and barge, that brought him and his family to western Pennsylvania in 1848 after his father lost his job in Scotland. The 12-hour shifts as a bobbin boy in a Pittsburgh textile factory, earning $1.20 a week to help the family make ends meet. And then … the boy’s ability to quickly master Morse code, making him something of local phenomenon … which led to a promotion … which brought him to the attention of the man who would tip him off to his first investment. To a remarkable degree, Carnegie possessed the ability to make insightful — even visionary — decisions at the critical junctures in his life.
Keen Instincts, Indelible Experiences
Young Carnegie heard about a well-to-do man who possessed a large library that he made available to working boys. He knocked at the door but was turned away when the man learned that he was but a lowly bobbin boy. Feeling deeply that this was wrong, the 13-year-old Carnegie had the acumen to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper protesting this iniquity. The letter must have helped because the wealthy man changed his mind — and Carnegie went on to educate himself in that very library.
“It’s surprising how keen, from a very young age, his instincts were,” says Francesconi. “His quest for knowledge … his very uncommon sense of common sense!” Not to mention his sense of what is right and just, which would later come to play such a prominent role in his philanthropic work.
“Carnegie was about 20 years down the road about almost everything. He had impeccable timing: to be in the right place at the right time and to know what to do with it.”
— Gino Francesconi, Director, Rose Museum, Carnegie Hall
Carnegie soon took a job at the telegraph company running messages. His boss recommended that he invest in a forerunner of American Express. Carnegie’s mother traveled around gathering money from family, scraping together $500 (the equivalent of $10,000 today) for the investment. It proved a success, forever changing Carnegie’s life. After his first dividend check arrived, “a lightbulb went off,” as Francesconi describes it. Carnegie had the realization that he could earn money by investing it — rather than subjecting himself to the harsh demands of manual labor.
An early investment in railroad sleeper cars earned him his first considerable fortune. Carnegie went on to invest in nearly two dozen companies, and he founded the Keystone Bridge Company, which built the first iron truss bridge across the Mississippi. He purchased iron mills and experimented with the newest technologies for converting iron to steel.
By the age of 33 Carnegie was worth $450,000, or what would be $8 million today, more than he needed to live comfortably for the rest of his life. (And this was before his forays into steel manufacturing.) In the posthumously published Autobiography (1920), he wrote about working in the factory as a boy and his early determination: “I began to learn what poverty meant.” It was “burnt” into his heart that his father had to beg for work: “And then and there came the resolve that I would cure that when I got to be a man.” And cure it he did. Having amassed all the wealth he and his family would ever need by his third decade, Carnegie turned his sights to helping others, and helping others help themselves. The early privations combined with his remarkable instincts developed in him a sensitivity to the needs of others as well as a strong sense of what might best serve the wider community.
Setting the Course for Philanthropy
That year, in 1868, he wrote a letter of intent, a declaration to himself that began to define what would become his philosophy of philanthropy. The memorandum was discovered after his death, and his wife, Louise, allowed copies to be made for the Library of Congress and The New York Public Library. In it Carnegie set forth his ambitions: “Cast aside business forever, except for others.… [and take] a part in public matters, especially those connected with education and improvement of the poorer classes.”
Always a voracious reader on a wide variety of topics, Andrew Carnegie began to write, going on to publish dozens of books, pamphlets, and essays on subjects ranging from socialism, international arbitration, and slavery (which he opposed), to travel, economics, and peace campaigns. “He was always writing, he felt inspired,” says Francesconi, “counting Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington among his friends.” The first of Carnegie’s writings to gain wide readership in both the U.S. and Europe was Triumphant Democracy (1886), a book in which he describes how, in less than a century, the United States had surpassed Great Britain as the world’s great superpower. Calling for the abolition of the British monarchy, Carnegie argues that England should follow the American democratic system as a model.
Having amassed all the wealth he and his family would ever need by his third decade, Carnegie turned his sights to helping others, and helping others help themselves.
In 1889 Carnegie published a pair of articles in the Atlantic, which together have come to be known as The Gospel of Wealth. These two pieces — “Wealth” and “The Best Fields for Philanthropy” — caused a sensation by posing a radical idea: men of means should distribute their wealth during their lifetimes for the betterment of mankind, rather than enjoying lavish lifestyles and bequeathing vast sums to their (male) heirs (wives and daughters should be comfortably provided for). He wrote:
This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of Wealth: First, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer … in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community — the man of wealth thus becoming the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren.
Books had offered Carnegie escape and enlightenment as a boy. As he recalled in his Autobiography, “In this way the windows were opened in the walls of my dungeon through which the light of knowledge streamed in. Every day’s toil and even the long hours of night service were lightened by the book which I carried about with me and read in the intervals that could be snatched from duty.” It is then fitting that his first major public donation was the gift of a public library to his hometown of Dunfermline.
Carnegie the benefactor was quickly becoming Carnegie the celebrity. By 1884 he had donated £5,000 for the Carnegie Baths recreation and health club in Dunfermline, funds for a public library in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and $50,000 to establish the first medical research laboratory in the U.S., at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.
In 1911 Carnegie established Carnegie Corporation of New York to distribute his remaining wealth “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding among the people of the United States.”
He was a trailblazing philanthropist. “He would give a town a library but wanted them to fundraise for the land,” says Francesconi. “Today that’s called a matching grant; his was the first of its kind. Carnegie was about 20 years down the road about almost everything. He had impeccable timing: to be in the right place at the right time and to know what to do with it.”
One such example was Carnegie Hall itself. At a time when the city was centered around 14th Street, Carnegie looked uptown — to 57th Street. Moreover, while other music halls of the era were built for companies like Steinway or for particular orchestras or impresarios, his was a grander gesture: he built a hall for all of New York City.
“I believe from the moment he started thinking along the lines of giving for the betterment of mankind, he could almost always see the bigger picture,” says Francesconi. “You can almost sense how he thought: Why build just another hall similar to the others when New York City in fact needs something on a larger scale?”
“All good causes may here find a platform,” said Carnegie at the laying of the hall’s cornerstone in 1890. And from its opening day on May 5, 1891, to the present, all causes have indeed found Carnegie Hall a welcoming platform, from a Margaret Sanger talk on birth control in 1917 to one of the earliest appearances of African American jazz musicians on a concert stage. “The variety of events is unique in the world,” observes Francesconi. “No one was ever barred from appearing because of politics, religious beliefs, or race, nor type of music. Nearly 50,000 events have taken place at Carnegie Hall, more than at any other concert hall in the world. I think Andrew would be happy.”
Carnegie gave away more than $350 million during his lifetime — the equivalent of nearly $7 billion today. He built more than 2,500 libraries; donated to the schools that eventually merged to become Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; and established the Hero Fund to award grants to men and women who risked and sometimes lost their lives for others — to name but a few of many causes, initiatives, and institutions he supported. Carnegie grew increasingly committed to the promotion of world peace in the years preceding World War I: the Peace Palace in The Hague was built thanks to his largesse and he backed an international peace conference held at Carnegie Hall in 1907.
The early privations combined with his remarkable instincts developed in him a sensitivity to the needs of others as well as a strong sense of what might best serve the wider community.
In 1911 Carnegie established Carnegie Corporation of New York to distribute his remaining wealth “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding among the people of the United States.” He endowed the Corporation with $135 million, giving the trustees permission to adapt its programs to the changing times. He wrote, “Conditions upon the earth inevitably change; hence, no wise man will bind Trustees forever to certain paths, causes or institutions. I declaim any intention of doing so.” This philosophy meant that in the future his foundation would have the freedom to be flexible, for example helping to fund such diverse initiatives as the discovery of insulin and the creation of Sesame Street.
Gino Francesconi recalls a quotation: “‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’” He continues, “If ever a line applied to Andrew Carnegie, that’s it.”
Andrew Carnegie: His Life and Legacy runs through October and is part of Carnegie Hall’s extraordinary Migrations festival, a series of events spread across New York City celebrating the waves of immigrants that have come to America, including an ambitious and very clever young boy from Scotland named Andrew.