As somebody who is fairly new to the wonderful world of family philanthropy, I can’t tell you what a privilege it was to sit through the National Center’s 3-day Governance Essentials seminar at the Pew Charitable Trusts Conference Center this March and learn about the ins and outs of trustee leadership. Until I accepted this position I thought the job of a family foundation trustee was to breeze into a room, checkbook in hand, and bestow Aladdin-esque wishes upon people.

Little did I know the extent of the work that goes along with the reward – the legal issues, IRS guidelines, investment questions and fiscal responsibilities – to name just a few. While trustee leadership may not be everyone’s passion, I can honestly say that I was riveted as our staff and expert presenters covered the essential things a responsible trustee needs to know with humor, enthusiasm and skill – while mixing lecture and interactive sessions perfectly. The event led one of our participants to send us the following note:

I could not have been more pleased with my experience at NCFP’s Governance Essentials program. As a relatively new trustee, and even newer Executive Director, this seminar provided invaluable knowledge that will serve me well for years to come. Full of practical advice – from common legal pitfalls, to effective grantmaking practices – this seminar addressed all of my needs in a comfortable, interactive environment. I arrived full of questions and uncertainties, and left feeling empowered and supported. I would wholly recommend this program to any foundation trustee with a desire to improve upon their family’s legacy of giving.

– Amy Goodwin, Executive Director, The Johnson Foundation

Amy was one of several impressive “next generation” trustees who I had the pleasure of getting to know and learn from – young people who attended our 3-day workshop alongside both new and more seasoned trustees because they realize that they have been given an important responsibility along with the great privilege of serving as a foundation leader.

(I also owe Amy a debt of gratitude for helping me navigate my iPhone – which she wielded like a samurai while I tried to figure out why the little pictures wiggled when I held onto an icon for too long…). If Amy, Peter, Martin, Kristy, Sarah and Katherine are indicative of family philanthropy’s future leadership, then the field is in thoughtful, capable hands.

As the National Center’s first ever Advancement Director, I also want to thank our Governance Essentials attendees for joining our rapidly growing Friends of the Family network. We take good care of our Friends at the National Center, and value their support. As new Friends of the Family, our attendees received a significant discount on the Governance Essentials seminar (and all future National Center seminars) and will now be connected to a group of foundation leaders and National Center staff who will be there to support them on their journey. Our Friends have access to our Knowledge Center – the largest library of family philanthropy resources in the world – and to our monthly Family Philanthropy Teleconference series. NCFP Friends are also invited and encouraged to call upon the National Center’s incredibly knowledgeable staff anytime to talk through an issue, get connected with a peer who has tackled a similar situation, or get referred to an article, past teleconference or Passages issues paper that addresses their needs in depth.

At the National Center, we truly consider our “Friends” to be part of the family. Please call (202-350-9365) or email ( me to learn more about our Friends of the Family and Leadership Circle programs.

Whether you are just creating your family’s philanthropy or have been at this work for generations, we are here to help – we would be honored to welcome you to our circle of Friends.

All my best,