In May 2015, the Academy received its largest single donation since its founding in 1780. The Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation, based in Cleveland, Ohio, donated $5.85 million to establish the Morton L. Mandel Program for Civic Discourse and Membership Engagement. The endowment will strengthen and enhance the connection among the Academy’s more than 4,600 Fellows and increase its engagement with the general public.
The hallmark of the Mandel Foundation’s philanthropy is its commitment to invest in people with the values, ability, and passion to change the world. The Foundation sees those values, ability, and passion in the exceptional Fellows and the substantive programming and initiatives of the Academy. With its $5.85 million gift, the Mandel Foundation aims to provide more opportunities in which Academy Fellows can exchange knowledge and expertise and advance new ideas.
Morton Mandel is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Parkwood LLC and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Mandel Foundation, both headquartered in Cleveland. With his brothers Joseph and Jack, he founded the Premier Industrial Corporation, where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 2006. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011.
The major portion of the gift, $5 million, will be an endowment and will fund two new positions:
- The Morton L. Mandel Director of Membership Engagement, who will develop new collaborative forums and platforms for Academy Members. In June 2015, Laurie McDonough joined the Academy staff in this role. She is designing and implementing programs and activities that will provide Members with more opportunities to connect to the Academy–and to each other. These activities include local program committees and regional events, informal discussion groups, and the implementation of a new digital platform that will allow Members to connect, collaborate, share resources, and develop project ideas.
- The Morton L. Mandel Presidential Fellow, who will work directly with the President of the Academy to expand and promote public outreach, innovation, and new policy projects.
In addition, The Mandel Endowment will support the Distinguished Morton L. Mandel Annual Public Lecture, which will be streamed internationally, as well as a series of regional lectures. The lectures will strengthen the Academy’s role in promoting discourse with the general public on important issues facing the nation and the world. The lecture series will debut in November of 2015. The activities of the first year of the initiatives listed above will be supported by $250,000 in expendable funds.
The remaining $600,000 will be used to fund state-of-the art technological improvements to the House of the Academy in Cambridge, Massachusetts. These include significant upgrades to live, interactive, streaming capabilities; teleconferencing; digital audio and video recording; and networking platforms.
The Academy is grateful to Morton Mandel and the Mandel Foundation for supporting the Mandel Program for Civic Discourse and Membership Engagement.