Tag: Philanthropy

Amid orchestra’s contract talks, lessons learned after the wolf’s been chased away

July 4th Louisville orchestra
Music Director Teddy Abrams leads players during a July 4th concert at Waterfont Park.
Louisville Orchestra‘s 2011 bankruptcy recalls one of the morals from Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” — let down your guard, and you may get gobbled up. Back then, the ensemble had grown overly reliant on a relative handful of backers, missing signs their generosity was about to dry up amid the financial crisis.

“No one wanted to face the reality that one day support would end,” Jorge Mester, the music director at the time, told The New York Times for a story about a string of financial crises roiling orchestras that spring.

Now, five years later, the Louisville orchestra is on far more stable footing. Contributions and grants jumped 29% in the year ended May 31, 2015, bringing total revenue to $7.2 million, according to its most recent IRS tax return. After expenses, that left a $1.3 million surplus. The endowment rose about 3% to nearly $1.6 million.

Launched in 1937, the orchestra has about 170 employees and an energetic music director, Teddy Abrams, who started in 2014 after working as assistant conductor at the Detroit Symphony. Abrams, 29, is among a new vanguard of conductors hoping to attract a younger audience and a wider donor base to guard against another sharp downtown.

Against that backdrop, management and players have started negotiations for a new contract to replace one that expired last spring, according to The Courier-Journal. They’re not alone. From coast to coast this year, other ensembles have been in contract talks, too, amid a stronger economy that’s fortified players’ resolve to claw back wages and benefits lost during the financial crisis.

andrew-kipe
Kipe
The tenor of Louisville’s contract talks isn’t known because negotiators aren’t talking publicly. “The organization is still a bit fragile, and we are in the middle of planning,” Executive Director Andrew Kipe told the newspaper.

But a review of the group’s recent IRS returns, alongside contract talks at other orchestras, offers a glimpse at the fraught stakes involved. Continue reading “Amid orchestra’s contract talks, lessons learned after the wolf’s been chased away”

Louisville’s Community Foundation left a piece of its heart in San Francisco

Just because the Community Foundation of Louisville bears the city’s name doesn’t mean all its biggest grants go to local charities.

The foundation’s newest IRS tax return shows it gave $6.3 million to the Schwab Charitable Fund in San Francisco during the year ended June 3o, 2015 — its single-biggest gift during the period, and one far larger than its top gifts in the previous two years.

schwab-charitable-fund-logoThe Schwab Fund — which is affiliated with the discount brokerage of the same name — is an enormous donor-advised charity that gives money to other non-profits across the country at the direction of its individual donors. Indeed, some of those nonprofits are back here in Louisville.

The Schwab grant accounted for more than 22% of the total $28 million in grants made by the Community Foundation during the year. Here were the top 10:

community-foundation-2014

In its 2013 and 2012 years, the Community Foundation also made large contributions to San Francisco charities — in both cases, the San Francisco Foundation — but nowhere near as large as the one to Schwab.

In both those years, the Community Foundation’s single-biggest grants went to 21st Century Parks, the non-profit that developed and maintains the sprawling Parklands of Floyds Fork, a group of four parks on 3,700 acres in eastern Jefferson County. Here were the top 10 those years:

community-foundation-2013

community-foundation-2012

Although the Louisville Community Foundation supports many local charities, it doesn’t limit its grants to the city. In fiscal 2014, only about $600,000 of the $28 million in grants came from the foundation’s unrestricted funds. The rest was made according to the terms of about 230 individual donor-advised funds it manages.

In its tax returns, the foundation doesn’t identify how much each of those donor-advised funds contribute, so there’s no way to know why so much money went to the Schwab Charitable Fund.

The Schwab Fund’s own tax return doesn’t offer a definitive answer, either. In its 2014 year, the fund made $1.1 billion in grants to more than 17,000 different non-profits — including nearly 30 back here in Louisville; indeed, one of those was 21st Century Parks, which got $105,000.

Photo, top: The Golden Gate Bridge, with the San Francisco skyline in the distance.

Documents reveal a legal latticework shielding the Brown family’s $6 billion whiskey fortune

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

When Brown-Forman stockholders gathered in July at the whiskey giant’s Georgian Revival headquarters west of downtown, the outcome of a crucial vote — re-electing 12 directors to the governing board — was anything but a surprise.

This has been the founding Brown family’s company for nearly 150 years. Six of the directors were Browns, including board Chairman George Garvin Brown IV — a great-great grandson of the founder — and the rest were unquestionably family loyalists.

Stockholders outside the family knew what Brown-Forman has disclosed for years in an annual statement soliciting their votes: 13 individual Browns and family groups hold 67% of all the voting shares in “a variety of family trusts and entities, with multiple family members often sharing voting control and investment power.”

Much less has been known about the scope of those entities, leaving more than 5,600 other stockholders in the dark about exactly how the Browns divvy up nearly $6 billion in shares among a core group of relatives.

George Garvin Brown
Founder Brown.

But now, documents filed by the Browns with the Securities and Exchange Commission detail how complex their ownership has grown since the pharmaceuticals salesman George Garvin Brown founded the company in 1870. They shed light on how the Browns have deployed extensive trust accounts, business partnerships, and other legal vehicles to pass down Brown-Forman stock through six generations. That’s an exceptional legacy in American business: Just 12% of family-owned companies survive into the third generation, and a slim 3% survive to the fourth and beyond.

The documents also point to a network of boutique consulting firms and other white-shoe professionals advising the city’s wealthiest families on everything from investments to taxes and charitable giving, hiring housekeepers and gardeners — even organizing vacation travel and family gatherings. Paid tens of thousands of dollars a year in fees, the firms are the backbone of a larger, multibillion-dollar economy serving the area’s uber-rich.

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Clockwise from top left: Garvin Brown IV, Campbell Brown, Christy Brown, Laura Frazier, Sandra Frazier and Mac Brown.

The documents were filed over the past 18 months by Continue reading “Documents reveal a legal latticework shielding the Brown family’s $6 billion whiskey fortune”

Aetna CEO slams U.S. senators for ‘unfounded’ accusations; UofL Foundation paying $12K a month for PR advice

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 8:46 a.m.

Mark Bertolini
Bertolini

HUMANA: Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini says that “marketplace reality” is pushing the company to exit nearly 70% of the counties with public health exchanges next year, and dismissed criticism of the insurer by a group of U.S. senators as “unfounded accusations.” Bertolini was responding to a letter from Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bill Nelson of Florida and Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent. The lawmakers said Aetna’s decision to quit numerous health exchanges “appears to be an effort to pressure the Justice Department into approving” its proposed $37 billion purchase of Humana (Hartford Courant).

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Mears, dressing for success.

TACO BELL: Designer and artist Olivia Mears has used Taco Bell wrappers, painted card stock, tissue paper, and felt to make her own spin on Belle’s dress from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” She tells Thrillist: “I had already sewn the yellow ballgown without tacos several years earlier for children’s parties and it was during this time that someone snapped a photo of me while at Taco Bell and it ended up going viral. Fast-forward about three years and I landed a role in a Taco Bell commercial wearing another dress I made from wrappers, so I decided to bring the Belle dress out from storage and continue the legacy.” The dress, unfortunately for fans, isn’t available for sale. But Mears is selling signed photos of it on her AvantGeek Etsy page (Thrillist).

In other news: Facing growing scrutiny from donors and its own university, the University of Louisville Foundation is paying $11,500 a month in retainers for external public relations advice from two Louisville PR shops: RunSwitch Public Relations, led by political strategist Scott Jennings, and Tandem Public Relations, led by Sandra Frazier, according to WFPL; both contracts were extended as of Sept. 1. Frazier, a recently retired Brown-Forman director, was one of Gov. Matt Bevin‘s appointees to a newly reorganized UofL board of trustees (WFPL).

KFC puts $218M U.S. advertising media buying account up for grabs; Papa John’s loses Rupp Arena rights, and more drama engulfs UofL Foundation

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 3:23 p.m.

KFC is looking for more bang for its bucks in a just-launched review of its U.S. spending for advertising and marketing across all channels, including print, broadcast, digital and social media. The review, which in theory could end with the chicken-chain keeping its current agency for the work — ad and marketing giant WPP’s MEC unit — doesn’t include creative work now being done by Wieden & Kennedy since 2015; that agency is responsible for the current campaign of rotating actors and comedians portraying a resurrected Colonel Harland Sanders. KFC’s U.S. division said it’s looking for an agency “capable of deploying innovative media strategies while leveraging cost efficiencies and maximizing return on investment” (AdAge). KFC just launched its latest Sanders TV commercials, featuring a fictional Kentucky Buckets pro football team.

PAPA JOHN’S has given up concession rights at Rupp Arena in Lexington starting this fall, and will be replaced by Hunt Brothers Pizza (Herald-Leader).

jack-daniels-150th-anniversary-whiskeyBROWN-FORMAN‘s Jack Daniel’s has unveiled a new version to celebrate its major birthday this year: Jack Daniel’s 150th Anniversary Whiskey, which is priced around $100 per one-liter bottle (The Whiskey Wash). Jack Daniel’s is the top seller among Brown-Forman’s 19 brands of spirits and wine.

UPS: Utah is giving UPS $5 million in tax incentives for the shipper’s plan to build a $200 million regional package operations center at a yet-to-be-determined site in the state that will create nearly 200 jobs (Salt Lake Tribune). UPS is the single-biggest private employer in Louisville, with 22,000 workers at it Louisville International Airport hub.

TEXAS ROADHOUSE is opening a Bubba’s 33 in east of Dallas in Mesquite as the Louisville-based steakhouse chain expands its new sports bar division. First launched in Fayetteville, N.C., in 2013, there are now a dozen Bubba’s locations, including outlets in Houston and Waco (Culture Map Dallas).

In other news: the University of Louisville board of trustees, escalating its battle with the independent UofL Foundation, today approved a threat to sue the foundation unless it accedes to demands to clean up its act. Board of Trustees Chairman Larry Benz said as many as 70 donors have called the university over the past few days to say they won’t give any more money unless the foundation shows that it is “clean” (Courier-Journal). Those donors’ threats followed similar ones last week by the James Graham Brown Foundation and the C.E. & S. Foundation led by Humana co-founder David A. Jones Sr.

David Jones Sr., his alma mater UofL, and the politics of money and power in Louisville

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

David Jones Sr
Jones

If there’s anything surprising about David A. Jones Sr. formally entering the high-stakes fray over the University of Louisville yesterday, it’s the fact it took this long to become public.

Nearly three months ago, when Gov. Matt Bevin shocked the community by seizing control of the school and dismissing the 20-member governing board he declared “dysfunctional,” the first person I thought of was Jones, the Louisville native, co-founder of Humana, and one of the state’s leading philanthropists.

That June 17, Bevin said his decision was the “culmination of all the conversations I’ve had with everybody on all fronts.” He didn’t reveal the names of those he’d spoken with, but it certainly would have included alumni whose opinion mattered. And few among that select group matters more than Jones.

“One of the university’s most influential and wealthiest graduates,” I wrote the day Bevin moved against the 22,000-student school, “is Humana co-founder David A. Jones Sr., who received a bachelor’s degree in business there in 1954.”

Jones and his wife, Betty Ashbury Jones, have long and extensive ties to UofL. She received a bachelor’s degree from the school in 1955, and the two went on to graduate school: David to Yale Law; and Betty, much later, to the French School at Vermont’s Middlebury College. (More on those two schools in a moment). Back in Louisville, Jones and a law partner, Wendell Cherry, launched the health-care company in 1961 that would become the Humana empire, starting with a single nursing home; they became millionaires after it went public in 1968.

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Betty and David Jones.
A Depression-poor childhood

David served on the board of trustees for a time, and Betty taught French Conversation in the Continuing Education Department from 1993 to 2003. For their service to the school, the couple were among the first to be made members of the Arts and Sciences Hall of Honors, in 2007.

David didn’t come from money, and UofL — which he attended on a ROTC scholarship Continue reading “David Jones Sr., his alma mater UofL, and the politics of money and power in Louisville”