26 Jan It Takes Two: A Father-Daughter Duo Advances a Family Tradition of Giving
The Swayne family has left an unparalleled legacy in Orange County, which they continue to build on through an innovative approach to their family’s philanthropy.
Judy Swayne’s dream to create an enduring home for local philanthropy was realized with the founding of the Orange County Community Foundation in 1989, and furthered through her leadership of OCCF over the next ten years. At the same time, her husband Keith was building his family’s company—Case Swayne Co.—into an iconic Orange County business success. When Keith retired after selling his company to BestFoods, he shifted focus to the passion for philanthropy he had shared with Judy throughout their lives together.
Judy and Keith formed The Swayne Family Foundation to focus their family’s giving, and made a bold move in line with their values when they appointed their daughter Anne as the foundation’s president.
“When Judy and I started the foundation, we knew we wanted family to be involved if they so choose,” explained Keith. “This was a new realm for Anne. She set out to educate herself about best practices in philanthropy, and fell in love with philanthropy in a way she never expected. She brought new ideas to the board, and we were excited about them.”
Anne was already experienced in leadership and service above self. Before joining the Swayne Foundation board, she had worked as a teacher and served in the Peace Corp.
The family’s sense of community grew beyond Orange County with Anne’s move to Oahu, and so The Swayne Family Foundation invests in efforts that strengthen families and communities in both Orange County and Hawaii.
Tragically, Judy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago and lost her battle with the disease in November 2014. As a result, the work of the Swayne Foundation settled firmly on the shoulders of the father-daughter team—a pairing that has been enriched by the combination of Keith’s business expertise and Anne’s innovative approach to “next generation” philanthropy.
“We want to be creative and strategic to have the best impact”, says Anne. “We are constantly questioning the best way to serve the community, to build trust and bridge the gap between nonprofits and philanthropy.”
In another bold move, the Swayne Foundation formed an advisory board of community leaders in Orange County and Hawaii to give input on their grantmaking strategies—something exceedingly rare in the family foundation realm, where the desire to retain control can lead to insular thinking and missed opportunities.
Beyond the work of their own foundation, the Swaynes are deeply committed to raising the bar for the family philanthropy field. Keith has been a driving force behind the formation of the Orange County Family Foundation Alliance, a network of local family foundations learning and sharing experiences to improve their impact. And in Hawaii, Anne has formed a chapter of EPIP—Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy.
Keith Swayne and Anne Swayne Keir may be of two generations, but they are of the same mind and heart when it comes to serving their communities. And that’s a family tradition that we can all learn from.
If you know of a family foundation that may benefit from the OC Family Foundation Alliance, they can learn more at oc-cf.org/FFA.
Shelley Hoss is president of the Orange County Community Foundation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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