Family Philanthropy Speaks: A Conversation with Vasser Seydel

Vasser Seydel, the granddaughter of Ted Turner, is the founding chair of the Turner 3rd Generation Board (T3G), a member of the Turner Foundation Board, and is a Millennial leader forging her own path in philanthropy. NCFP President and CEO Nick Tedesco spoke with Vasser about the inception of the T3G Board, the challenges of generational transition, how to engage the next-gen, and how Vasser has developed her philanthropic voice.

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关于the Series

Philanthropy is a practice borne out of compassion and commitment—and one that is deeply rooted in family. It’s also a practice that must continue to evolve to effectively meet the needs of the communities it seeks to serve. Thankfully, there are countless social sector leaders who are advancing the field with their bold ideas and unwavering enthusiasm for the greater good. The National Center for Family Philanthropy is honored to share the stories of these leaders through its program,Family Philanthropy Speaks—a series of conversations designed to feature the innovative spirit of family philanthropy. These dynamic discussions aim to capture emerging trends and solutions, share new and diverse voices in the field, and lift up the role of family philanthropy—past, present, and future—in stewarding social change. We hope you will join us to explore what it means to give with intention!

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Nick Tedesco:欢迎来到家庭慈善中心的家庭慈善manbetx安卓版最新版下载家演讲博客系列。这些对话突出了家庭奉献的创新精神。今天,我们的客人在一个拥有非凡的慈善遗产的家庭中长大。瓦瑟·塞德尔(Vasser Seydel)是特德·特纳(Ted Turner)的孙女,并担任特纳基金会(Turner Foundation)的第三代主任。她还是一名环保顾问,也是她本人的家庭慈善事业领导者。manbetx安卓版最新版下载我首先向Vassar询问她的成长经历以及如何帮助她的世界观。

Vasser Seydel:Nick, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t know what philanthropy was. I don’t know if I actually knew the literal definition at a super early age, but I understood what it meant to be a philanthropist and what philanthropy looked like because growing up it was all around me. My grandfather, Ted Turner, was very philanthropic and still is. But at the time of me growing up very philanthropic in the public eye specifically, but also that leaked over into our private lives, whether that was dinner table conversations, or my experiences in the outside world, or my value system. And the interesting thing about philanthropy, as Nick you definitely know, it’s different for each family. Normally a matriarch or patriarch of the family kind of sets the tone and defines philanthropy and what it means and what it looks uniquely to the family. And my Grandpa Ted, demonstrated that, in our family, philanthropy was defined as acknowledging our privilege and our responsibility and giving back to both people and the planet.


Nick Tedesco:那么,您在什么时候正式参与了家庭慈善事业?manbetx安卓版最新版下载我们已经提到了您在第三代董事会上的参与。因此,我很想听听有关此事的更多信息以及董事会在更广泛的基础董事会中所扮演的角色。

Vasser Seydel:So I love talking about T3G which is what my cousins and I decided to call the Turner third generation board. And I love it because the “adult board,” which I am now on can never get it right, T3G, they can’t get the acronym. But it’s really cool because the process started and the evolution of T3G started with our amazing staff at the foundation, Karen Murphy, and our former President Judy Adler, both amazing and incredible women. And really there’s a lot of girl cousins. So really who were more than just staff, they were mentors and family to us. So four years ago, this amazing team introduced the idea of a third generation board to my cousins and I, and we really liked it. And it aligned with the Turner Foundation and my grandpa’s view for the foundation of one, the obvious giving side of being philanthropic, and communities and for the environment and the other side of our family philanthropy and his vision of creating family unity.

所以我们开始由looki创建公司的过程ng at case studies, doing values assessments, goal workshops, and creating a mission statement. So really, the staff catalyzed the idea and really just were helping us and providing resources for us to create what we wanted to create, which was really cool and was a great way of making the third generation board our own idea. And what was even more cool is that we, for the first time, were able to see our goals and priorities and how they aligned with the Turner Foundation board, and also where they differed. For example, we feel really passionately about youth and more specifically underserved youth and hands-on opportunities, which wasn’t really a goal for our aunts and uncles. For whatever reason, they just had other bigger funding priorities.

So for the first time we got to sit down and in doing a third generation values assessment we could see a generational transfer of values and really see what was important to my grandpa was also deeply important to all of his grandchildren. So functionality wise, to your question about the third generation board, it gives an opportunity for my cousins to prepare for the older board and also, which I love and I think is a really great opportunity is, it’s a learning opportunity for leadership positions at an earlier age and starting some conversations just within the generation around equity, wealth, privilege, and other conversations which are so important to have within a family philanthropy community.

Nick Tedesco:So if I’m hearing you correctly this feels like a space where you all not only prepare to be stewards of the family’s philanthropy more broadly, but also is an opportunity for you to reflect on the values that drive you as a separate and distinct generation from your parents and grandparents. Is that correct?

Vasser Seydel:绝对地。

Nick Tedesco:So what age are you eligible to be on T3G and what does the frequency of meetings look like and the rhythm of engagement?

Vasser Seydel:因此,我们最初的年龄是15岁,但我们的一个年轻的表亲确定他想成为董事会的一员并考虑他的要求,我们就像,“老实说,这是很棒的。这不是排他性的。这确实是要在年轻时引起的兴趣。因此,由于他有兴趣,所以越多。”老实说,这是成功的迹象,即初级委员会在很小的时候就引起了人们的兴趣。因此,我们将其击回了最近的13。但是,这个年龄实际上只会取决于对我们的家庭和我们家庭的工作,第三代的年龄范围差异很大。

So my brother is 27 and the youngest is maybe seven years old. So we wanted to make sure that we had buy-in from the cousins who decided they wanted to be on the third generation board. So we wanted to make it old enough to where someone’s going to read a docket and have time and really show up prepared, but young enough to allow whoever wants to be on the board at that age to be able to be involved in the process.

Nick Tedesco:因此,我很想谈论您的家人和家人的慈善事业的这一刻。因此,随着您的祖父正在衰老,当家人考虑过各个世代的过渡时,基金会的一些优先事项是什么?您认为您的角色是能够管理这些优先事项的角色?

Vasser Seydel:So, Nick, this is such an important question. And to be honest, this is a really loaded question for us at the Turner Foundation right now, as you alluded to and many may know my grandfather has Lewy Body Dementia, and he’s been public about that. So we’re at the stage where we’ve been grappling with the transition planning process. So my grandfather also set a pretty amazing legacy and example for the philanthropic community to give his resources and see that change and impact during his lifetime. And I believe, as he obviously does, that there is no better time to make change than the present. And just look around us right now in 2020. We’re living in unprecedented times where a lot of issues are coming to the surface and there’s a great deal, to be honest, of urgency around them.

So I believe his message is more important now than ever for the philanthropic community and all that said, transition planning isn’t easy, and you have to make tough decisions that you might not really want to, but it’s just the reality of where you are. But coming from a place of family unity, and really my grandfather’s legacy at its core, it makes the process easier.

And like you said, I look forward to being part of those decisions more in the future now that I am on the adult board and for my own role at the Turner Foundation, I want to continue my grandfather’s bold legacy of giving and really being innovative. So I hope to bring more of the third generation’s perspective and priorities to the table in our giving.

Nick Tedesco: I have no doubt you do and will make him very proud as you do this work. I want to talk about a dual goal that families often have, and that is one of a goal of family engagement and family unity as well as social impact. And I want to explore whether that resonates with you and your family. Does that feel like the way that you all frame why you pursue a family philanthropy effort?

Vasser Seydel:因此,我的祖父实际上已经明确表示这是他的意图,这是创建特纳基金会时的双重意图。就像您说的那样,一个更明显的目标是赋予和产生影响,但他的另一个意图是建立这种家庭统一感。而且您可能知道,家庭基金会的统计数据通常不会成为第三代,这与家庭必须处理财富和家庭成员之间的差异有关。但是我认为家庭慈善事业创manbetx安卓版最新版下载造了一个机会,可以团结起来,在我看来,这些相似之处应该妨碍,或者在这种情况下对我们有效,应该扎根并与我们的创始人,我的爷爷以及他相信什么以及他所相信的东西一样。他的目标是对这个星球产生影响。


Nick Tedesco:So as a next-gen leader in the family, I’d love to hear a little bit more about how you have found your voice amongst a large family, a family with a lot of strength, and opinions and experience. And I’d love for you to share the advice that you would give to other emerging leaders in families, because it often is quite a challenge to be able to find your footing and find your voice.

Vasser Seydel:嗯,对我来说,它不是’t really a challenge to find my voice because I’m the oldest girl cousin. Well, one because of the family, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree on this line, but also because of the dynamics. I’m the oldest girl cousin, my brother’s the oldest cousin. So we were kind of like the nannies when we would all get together, we’re watching out for everyone. So just this dynamics will lend to my cousins looking up to me and my siblings, but my advice is simple for the emerging leaders in philanthropy that if you have something to say, say it. And you can only develop your voice if you have practice speaking up. And a family foundation board junior board is a great place to train that muscle. Low stakes, really, because it’s a safe space. And it’s also important, and I want to stress this point, to remember that being a good leader isn’t just about your own opinion and your own voice, it’s about lifting up other voices as well. So odds are you have a cousin or a sibling that might be younger or a little bit more shy, you can mentor and encourage them to help them find their voice. And if you’re the person in the family who doesn’t speak up as much, who might be more shy or just a better listener, just know that there is immense power in that. And when you do have something to say, people are always more inclined to listen to you. So just know your power.

Nick Tedesco:It’s extraordinary advice. And I know there are going to be a lot of people that benefit from that. So thank you for sharing that on. The flip side of that, what would you say to the generations above the emerging leaders to be able to create that environment to empower the next generation?

Vasser Seydel:通常,一个非常简单的是使它变得有趣。慈善事业非常认真,今天似乎更加严重,但并不总是必须有这种感觉。因此,无论您是通过务虚会,现场访问,即使在家庭董事会会议,甚至是第三代董事会中这样做,都可以使它变得更轻松一点。这也是关于一天结束的家庭。因此,只需将其围绕感觉良好,玩乐,并通过奉献过程共同创造回忆。另一个是在正式或非正式过程中,无论对家庭有什么用的东西,都要在早期灌输价值观。


So just having those conversations with your children and giving them the tools to understand what does your family do with your wealth? And what kind of impact is your family having in this world? And lastly, I just want to say family philanthropy is a really unique opportunity for the next generation to learn what their passions are at an early age. And as I mentioned before, it’s also a training ground for leadership. So just take advantage of creating and encouraging leadership opportunities in these safe spaces.

Nick Tedesco:我想谈谈关于部门is evolving. So we’ve seen a lot of changes over the last four to six months with a lot more to come. And I’d love for you to reflect a little bit on what your hopes are for philanthropy and what philanthropists might do to meet the moment.

Vasser Seydel:现在,我们看到了一些非常大的系统性,紧急和全球性问题。我们的世界正在发生变化,尽管改变会让某些人感到恐惧或恐吓,但在这种情况下,这确实是一个机会,在这种情况下,慈善事业的发展机会,变得更加大胆,更加勇敢,更勇敢,更具创新性, which isn’t new to philanthropy by the way. My grandfather is a great example of that and there’s many others as well. But to not get comfortable with where we are now. Philanthropy is faced with this challenge and this responsibility to help expedite and catalyze the change that we need to see in this world, whether it’s to solve the climate crisis, reduce our carbon emissions by half by 2030, which is no small feat and takes transformational change, whether it’s to tackle the systematic racial issues in the US and around the world, whether it’s to tackle the health crisis, all of these issues. Now we know these issues do not operate in silos. So we have to create solutions that are cross-cutting.

So my hope would be for more philanthropic families to spend beyond 5% to center racial justice and many cross-cutting issue areas and solutions, and to include expertise of people in communities being funded, which I think is happening and I’ve seen it happening across the sector a lot and more and more so. So philanthropy is doing a good job of that, but just to really embed that in best practices and lastly, to increase partnerships, whether that’s challenge grants, but just really increasing collaboration around issue areas.

Nick Tedesco:这是一个大胆而简洁的行动呼吁。瓦瑟(Vasser),这是一个很棒的说明。我要感谢您的宝贵时间,感谢您的领导,感谢您与国家家庭慈善事业中心作为董事会成员和合作伙伴关系的参与。manbetx安卓版最新版下载因此,我们非常感谢您今天的时间和您的想法,并感谢您与我们在一起。