Annenberg Foundation Shifts its Base
March 13, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer — After doling out hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades, one of the few major philanthropies in the Philadelphia region began a quick fade from the scene with the death yesterday of its ardent doyenne of hometown causes.
Leonore Annenberg, the region's voice in decision-making at the Annenberg Foundation, died in the morning in California, and by late in the day officials had confirmed that the Annenberg Foundation would move its headquarters from Radnor to Los Angeles.
Longtime executive director Gail C. Levin is stepping down, and control of the foundation has been transferred to Mrs. Annenberg's stepdaughter, Wallis, and three grandchildren living in Los Angeles and Paris.
"Now it's time for a new generation to take over," Levin said. "They will be doing the work of interest and importance to them."
Asked whether grant-making in Philadelphia would be given any special consideration in the future, Levin said:
"I don't know that there will be any special consideration. Clearly they are deeply interested in their surroundings in Southern California and California at large, and they have been and will be doing work elsewhere."
She said the Radnor office would be kept open to "support the Los Angeles trustees" with accounting and human-resources functions. A foundation spokeswoman in Los Angeles declined to say anything about funding in the Philadelphia area. "We do not know what is going to happen in Philadelphia yet. It is just too soon."
Whatever its future, the multibillion-dollar foundation led by Mrs. Annenberg since the death of husband, Walter, in 2002 has had a stunning run in Philadelphia, supporting projects in media, education, health care, historic preservation, and the arts with hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts.
"It's the end of an era as far as the Annenberg Foundation is concerned, because Lee is gone and the foundation will now be run by Wallis, so they will no longer have any impact in Philadelphia," said H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, who frequently joined forces with Mrs. Annenberg and the Pew Charitable Trusts on major civic projects. "It will primarily be Los Angeles."
- Academy of Music
- Annenberg Foundation
- Annenberg Public Policy Center
- Annenberg School for Communication
- Barnes Foundation
- Jefferson Hospital
- Kimmel Center
- Metropolitan Museum Of Art
- Peddie School
- Pew Charitable Trusts
- Philadelphia Inquirer
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- University of Pennsylvania
- William Penn Foundation