Lynde UihleinLynde Uihlein

I was born into a family with a strong philanthropic tradition, a generosity that was colored by a sense of civic duty and social expectation. I initiated charitable giving in the same manner as my family before me, but over time I came to understand that while churches, schools and hospitals receive widespread support, other, less mainstream needs were being overlooked. What about organizations on the periphery that seek to improve the lives of women and girls? What about organizations working to ensure that citizens are involved in decisions that affect them? Were individuals and communities given the opportunity to think for themselves, to become informed, to act on what they knew and learned? These were the questions I have longed to see asked and answered. They have allowed my philanthropic work to evolve as social structures and communities have evolved.

Like others before me, I witnessed families exclude women from the decision-making process. As I made my choices growing up, I sought a way to have an impact on how women experienced their lives.  I enrolled in graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Social Welfare, where I brought with me a desire to get to the heart of difficult issues within families and systems.  I encountered situations that were complicated and seemingly intractable.  My work in social welfare left me with a deep admiration for those who choose to stay on the front lines of the fight for justice, equality and inclusion.  It was also the beginning of my understanding of our human interconnection, and our need to work together toward the common good.

Much of my childhood was spent immersed in the natural world, the woods, fields and lakes of Wisconsin. That experience formed the foundation of my belief in the principles of interdependence and diversity.  The web of life depends on these principles. They are as pertinent to mankind as to all other life, and they have been seminal in my work.  In thirty years of philanthropy through the Lynde B. Uihlein Foundation and the Brico Fund I have seen these principles in action. I have been privileged to fund the work of organizations that support the underpinnings of democracy, provide stewardship of our environment, and contribute to the creative anarchy of the local arts community.

My time is now focused on personal pursuits.  I will continue to support Brico for the foreseeable future, though I will leave the day-to-day work in the hands of Executive Director Anne Summers. I look forward to watching the Brico Fund continue to impact our diverse and complicated world.