Headlines these days are wretched, bent as they are on screaming about mayhem, agony, and the worst of humanity. Perhaps now is a good time to pause as we near the season of goodwill and take a closer look at those souls who make their lives all about improving the human condition. This Inside Memphis Business is the annual philanthropy issue, where we celebrate those who give and share for the betterment of the community.
While our cover subjects take different approaches to their giving and involvement, both come from the notion that, if you’ve got it, share it.
Gayle Rose has been at the forefront of philanthropy and community involvement, from the effort to recruit the Grizzlies, to leading the Memphis Symphony Orchestra out of the wilderness, to co-founding the Women’s Foundation of Greater Memphis. Her interests are wide and her visibility is high.
In contrast, Dick Gadomski has, for decades, focused most of his philanthropic energy towards making Christian Brothers University an academic and community powerhouse. Ask anyone if they know who Gadomski is and they’re likely to furrow their brow and shrug their shoulders. Unless that person is connected with CBU.
Their stories are both similar and different as can be. She was drawn to the arts at an early age and did well; he was a lousy student in high school — except for chemistry. She put aside a career as a professional clarinetist to pursue arts administration. He straightened up in college and became a versatile engineer.
Both are thinkers and entrepreneurs. Both are humble about their philanthropy. Neither are soft touches. Both have been touched by tragedy and neither gave up.
This edition of IMB offers up a few other people you need to know.
The remarkable Ruby Bright, who has been at the helm of the Women’s Foundation since 2000, is highlighted in our Leadership feature by Frank Murtaugh.
Find out what’s going on at ArtsMemphis, an organization that both gives and receives, in Fredric Koeppel’s interview with executive director Elizabeth Rouse.
Few people know nonprofits as well as Kevin Dean, CEO of Momentum Nonprofit Partners, and he’ll tell you how they click.
You’ll also get a peek inside the offices at United Way, an interview with Meritan’s president/CEO Melanie Keller on the social service organization’s move Downtown, and a look at the community partnership between International Paper and the RISE Foundation.
There are good things going on in this world and don’t let the headlines dissuade you.