A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

Sending 12 Members of Our Family Foundation to a Single Conference

Diana Bittner was excited. She was inspired. She was ready to learn. As a trustee of the Tracy Family Foundation (TFF), Bittner was one of seven TFF members from across the United States who converged in Phoenix, Arizona, to attend the Exponent Philanthropy’s 2015 CONNECT Conference.

Bittner and her fellow TFF trustees spent three days discovering innovative new ideas, networking with other foundations and their attendees, and building a more close-knit group within the foundation.

“It was very inspiring to meet so many individuals from different types of foundations who were all so passionate about what they do,” said Bittner, a third-generation (3G) Tracy family member. “But at the end of the day, it was a true bonding experience for all of us in TFF. We were all invested in being there and excited to share our experiences from the day with the others from our group.”

4 Generations, 100 Members Strong

TFF was founded in 1997 by the second generation Tracy family members (2Gs) to honor their philanthropic parents and give back to the community in which they grew up.

The organization’s mission is to “provide resources to organizations that foster the values of Robert and Dorothy Tracy—a Catholic/Christian belief, honesty, integrity, fairness, and a strong work ethic. The Foundation seeks to proactively strengthen Brown County in Illinois and the surrounding Region by investing in the education, youth, families, and the capacity of these communities. The Foundation is also the vehicle for developing a philanthropic spirit among Tracy family members.”

TFF President Jean Buckley is No. 6 of the 12 Tracy family 2Gs. Between the four generations, the Tracy family is 100 members strong and ages range from 3 months to 88 years old. Buckley said their mission statement is one of the reasons she encouraged so many foundation and family members to attend the conference.

“We strive for active engagement by the family in the foundation, so it only makes sense that we encourage trustees, staff and family members to participate in CONNECT,” Buckley said. “By having several trustees and family members attend the conference, we can take advantage of the many learning opportunities available.”

Learning Together

Buckley has gravitated toward Exponent Philanthropy for some time now. She mentioned they have well-organized conferences and top-notch content that delivers educational insights and new connections—and there is always something intriguing for everyone in her group.

On a personal front, Buckley said she attends the conference because it inspires her and she gets to see and hear from so many people who are all working to make the world a better place.

“It is an awesome, inspiring, and humbling opportunity,” she said.

The 2017 CONNECT Conference will be held October 15−17 in Denver, Colorado. The Tracy Family Foundation will once again be in attendance, but this time with 12 members on-site to learn, engage, and network.

“I encourage others that are attending the conference to utilize this opportunity to connect with one another in a different setting and bring as many members from their foundation as possible,” Bittner said. “To be able to share this experience with their fellow colleagues and family members will increase the value of the conference exponentially.”

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