Walmart Heir pledges $ 100 million for conservation of African parks
An overview of remarkable gifts compiled by the The Chronicle:
African Parks of America Foundation
Rob and Melani Walton have pledged $ 100 million through their Rob and Melani Walton Foundation to help support environmental protected areas in Africa. Of the total, $ 75 million will be used to endow the association and $ 25 million will be used for the immediate needs of parks managed by the association. African Parks is a conservation group in Johannesburg that manages 19 protected areas covering 14.7 million hectares in several African countries.
Rob Walton is a retired chairman of the board of directors of Walmart, the retail giant founded by his parents, Sam and Helen Walton. He joined Walmart in 1969 and has held various positions including Senior Vice President, Corporate Secretary, General Counsel and Vice President. Prior to joining Walmart, he was a partner at Conner & Winters, a law firm in Tulsa, Okla.
Peter and Stephanie Nolan donated $ 50 million to establish the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration and to fund scholarships. Peter Nolan received a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from the university in 1980 and 1982, respectively. Stephanie Nolan graduated from Cornell in 1984. Their children also graduated from Cornell.
Peter Nolan founded and runs Nolan Capital, an investment firm in Hermosa Beach, California. He is also a senior advisor at Leonard Green & Partners, a private equity firm in Los Angeles. Stephanie Nolan previously worked for L’Ermitage Hotel Group and was the Resident Manager of Sunset Marquis, a luxury hotel in West Hollywood, California.
Iowa State University
CG (Turk) Therkildsen and Joyce A. McEwen Therkildsen have pledged $ 42 million to the Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Manufacturing for a new building that will house classrooms and research lab spaces.
The Therkildsens are the CEO and retired chairman and general secretary of Industrial Hard Chrome, a manufacturer of chrome rods and tubes in Geneva, Illinois, respectively. After holding various engineering and management positions in several companies, Turk Therkildsen joined Industrial Hard Chrome as Managing Director in 1974. The couple bought the company in 1985.
Prior to her position at Industrial, Joyce Therkildsen taught middle and high school and was a track coach. The couple are members of the class of 1959. Turk Therkildsen graduated in industrial engineering and Joyce Therkildsen graduated in zoology and physical education.
Jorge and Darlene Pérez donated their family home, which was then sold for $ 33 million. All proceeds from the sale of the bay house will be used to support various causes in Miami.
Jorge Pérez co-founded and heads the Related Group, a real estate development company in Miami. Earlier in his career, he served as Director of Economic Development for the City of Miami. He served on the board of directors of the Miami Foundation from 1991 to 1996, helping to guide the granting agency through the city’s recovery from Hurricane Andrew.
In 2015, he created the Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation at the Miami Foundation. Through their foundation, the couple support Miami-area charities focused on health and wellness, education, the environment, and economic development.
Thomas Golisano has pledged $ 30 million to expand the Special Olympics Healthy Communities program, which provides global health services to people with developmental disabilities.
Golisano founded Paychex, a Rochester, NY company that provides businesses with employee benefits, human resources, and payroll services. Golisano, who has a son with an intellectual disability, is a long-time supporter of the association and has given much to charity over the years. He appeared on the The Chronicle’s the annual Philanthropy 50 list of the most generous donors three times since 2002.
University of Cincinnati
Jim Goetz has donated $ 25 million to support computer science programs, scholarships for top performing Cincinnati Public School high school students, hiring more computer teachers, and other efforts.
Goetz is a partner of Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm in Menlo Park, Calif. Known for its early investments in Apple, Oracle, Google, LinkedIn and many other Silicon Valley tech companies that are now well known. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the university in 1988. The university’s engineering building will be named after Thomas Mantei, professor emeritus of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, to whom Goetz awarded his success.
“Dr. Mantei has been a vital mentor in my life. He has championed my cause, helped me believe in myself and helped me realize my potential,” Goetz said in a press release. “I stay indebted to its debt.
University of Florida Health
Lee and Lauren Fixel have donated $ 25 million through their Lauren and Lee Fixel Family Foundation. The donation will expand the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases and encourage growth in the areas of national and international telemedicine, clinical research in Alzheimer’s disease and research programs in mental health, traumatic brain injury and ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Lee Fixel founded venture capital firm Addition, which invests in technology companies. Previously, he headed the private equity division of Tiger Global Management, a New York-based investment firm of which he was a partner.
The institute is named after Lee Fixel’s father, Norman, who received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the university in 1975. Lauren Fixel also graduated from UF, with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2007.
Shauna McKee Stark has donated $ 5 million to support the Pembroke Center programs and staff the center director position. The research center focuses on the study of gender and sexuality.
Stark is a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that is the founding investor in The Establishment, a feminist alternative culture and news website launched in 2015. Earlier in her career, Stark was a financial analyst and chief executive officer financial planning. She graduated from Brown in 1976 and serves on the Pembroke Center Advisory Board.
Mount Sinai Health System
Bob and Renee Parsons donated $ 5 million through their Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation to support the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research in the Department of Psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai. The money will be used to develop training and education for therapists using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and other psychedelic medicine approaches.
The donation will also support the development of protocols to provide MDMA in the context of group psychotherapy for veterans with PTSD, establish a postgraduate scholarship program, and support the centre’s MINDSET lecture series.
MDMA has been an illegal psychoactive drug in the United States since 1985, but the Food and Drug Administration recently authorized clinical trials on the drug’s therapeutic potential for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Bob Parsons co-founded the GoDaddy website domain company. The Parsons are prolific philanthropists and have appeared on the the ChronicleThe annual Philanthropy 50 list of the biggest donors in 2018.
New York Law School
Zygi Wilf donated $ 5 million through his Zygmunt and Audrey Wilf Foundation to establish the New York Law School Wilf Impact Center for Public Interest Law and create the Wilf Impact Scholars program. The Wilf Impact Center will house the law school’s programs that aim to expand access to justice, remove barriers to equal opportunity, and improve the quality of public services and legal representation.
Wilf is a billionaire real estate developer who is the president and part owner of the Minnesota Vikings, a professional football team. Wilf graduated from the school with a law degree in 1974.
To learn more about other big donations, check out our database of donations of $ 1 million or more, which is updated regularly.