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Written by Sally I. Barceló

Celebrating some of the men and women who have led the way in corporate philanthropy and changed the lives of many.

In this issue, we celebrate the continued philanthropic spirit of our city, and the giving spirit found within our nation’s history, including the long-standing tradition of corporate philanthropy. 

From Publix Owner Carol Jenkins Barnett and corporate leader at the Ford Foundation, Franklin Thomas, to David and Lucile Packard, Co-Founders of HP Technology, these men and women have historically set the standard for successful corporate philanthropy. 

We are inspired by their stories and seek to honor their legacies by participating in our community’s philanthropic endeavors. When we do our part by contributing our time and resources, we build better communities and positively impact the world around us. 

FRANKLIN A. THOMAS | Ford Motors

Franklin A. Thomas was a distinguished and lifelong advocate for economic and social justice and took on rebuilding the struggling neighborhood in New York City where he once grew up. Thomas also led the philanthropic giant Ford Foundation, broke barriers on major corporation boards, including Citibank, and worked to build a legal system for post-apartheid South Africa.

After receiving his B.A. degree, Thomas joined the U.S. Air Force as a strategic air command navigator, where he served as captain from 1956 to 1960. In 1964, he was admitted to the New York State Bar and began his legal career as an attorney at the Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency’s New York office. During the same year, Thomas served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. 

From 1967 to 1977, Thomas served as president and chief executive officer for the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. He raised approximately $63 million in public and private funds and served at the forefront of community redevelopment efforts.

As president of the Ford Foundation from 1979 to 1996, the nation’s richest philanthropic organization at the time, Thomas focused its programs on poverty and human rights and established programs in South Africa to develop black leaders for the end of apartheid. 

Five years later, he answered the call to oversee the September 11th Fund, which distributed nearly $600 million in public donations to help victims of the 2001 terrorist attack. 

Thomas was the recipient of numerous awards, including The Lyndon Baines Johnson Award for “Contributions to the Betterment of Urban Life,” the John Jay and Alexander Hamilton Awards from Columbia College, and Columbia Law School’s James Kent Medal for distinguished professional achievement. He also was the recipient of Columbia University’s Medal of Excellence.

CAROL JENKINS BARNETT | Publix Supermarket

Lakelander, Carol Jenkins Barnett is an admired philanthropist whose legacy continues to impact the lives of many. 

Jenkins Barnett was the daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins. She started her career as a cashier at a Publix store in the Grove Parks Shopping Center; she then moved up through the corporate marketing research and development department in 1979. She was elected to the Publix board of directors in 1983, where she served until her 2016 Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

In addition to her service at Publix, Jenkins Barnett was personally involved in various nonprofit organizations, from the United Way of Central Florida to the Florida Partnership for School Readiness. Jenkins Barnett was also known for her generous donations to institutions, including her alma mater, Florida Southern College, and the Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, which bears her name at the Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children.

As president of Publix Super Markets Charities, her generous assistance has touched the lives of countless children over the years. She was also a founding board member of the Polk Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization managing private and corporate donations benefiting PCPS students. She spent more than 20 years serving on the board, providing her wise guidance and loyal backing.

Jenkins Barnett recognized the importance of literacy and early learning — establishing the United Way’s Reading Pals program, whose army of volunteers continues to make an invaluable contribution to students and schools.

Carol Jenkins Barnett received numerous accolades for her generous spirit, such as a Champion for Literacy award from the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She was selected for the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016.

DAVID AND LUCILE PACKARD | HP Technology

David and Lucile Packard were philanthropists long before they helped transform a small electronics shop in their garage into one of the world’s leading technology companies, best recognized today as “HP Technology.” 

When Lucile met David as a Stanford undergraduate, she was already giving back, volunteering at the Stanford Convalescent Home to help treat children with tuberculosis. Even after HP achieved monumental success, Lucile continued her work with the Home. The Packard’s donated $40 million to convert the Stanford Convalescent Home into the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, widely considered one of the best pediatric hospitals in the country. She also served as chair of the Children’s Health Council board and gave her name to the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, established a few years after her passing.

David and Lucile formalized their passion for philanthropy in 1964 when they established the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. After David died in 1996, the Foundation was named the beneficiary of a significant portion of his estate.

The couple’s philanthropic efforts were not limited to children’s causes. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is one of the nation’s largest independent foundations, with annual giving nearing $300 million. As environmental conservation was a passion of David’s, he and Lucile created the Monterey Bay Aquarium, visited by 1.8 million annually. The couple also advocated for the free market, and David served on the boards of the Hoover Institution, the Herbert Hoover Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute.

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