David Romeyn Hunter

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David Romeyn Hunter "widely recognized as the "godfather" of progressive, socially conscious philanthropy in the United States, died November 25, 2000 after a long illness.

"Hunter will be remembered best as one of the most influential advisors to wealthy, progressive donors and family foundations, many who came of age in the 1960's and sought to put their family fortunes to positive use. First as executive director of the Stern Fund, a liberal New York-based family foundation whose money came from the Sears Roebuck fortune, and then as the director of the Ottinger Foundation, Hunter came to be a philanthropic advisor to half a dozen other similarly minded foundations and individuals. It was in this position, for the next several decades, that Hunter gradually mentored people throughout the country who tried to apply the American tradition of private philanthropy to issues of social and economic justice...

"Hunter's philanthropic career began in 1959 at the Ford Foundation. He and a small group of colleagues crafted inner city anti-poverty programs that became a prototype for President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. Building on this work, Hunter wrote "The Slums: Challenge and Response," a book published by the Free Press in 1964. An initial grant from Hunter supported work which eventually led to "motor voter" legislation that made voter registration much easier...

"Hunter's godfathering included being a mentor for a group of younger philanthropists -- many of them 3rd or 4th generation members of wealthy families -- who formed a chain of regionally-based progressive foundations in the 1970s: the Vanguard Foundation in San Francisco, the Haymarket People's Fund in Boston and the North Star Fund in New York, among others.

"When the Stern Fund ended its activities, David Hunter did not retire. He continued his networking from his office at his home in Port Washington. In 1984, the North Star Fund gave Hunter its first annual Frederick Douglas Award. The International Center for Development Policy in Washington, D.C. named its building after him. For his efforts to promote sustainable development on Long Island, he received the Paul Gutierrez award for Contributions to Human Dignity from the Long Island Progressive Coalition...

"Mr. Hunter was born May 17, 1916 in Evanston, Illinois. His mother was a Montessori teacher, his father a Presbyterian minister and prominent social worker. After getting a master's degree in social work from the University of Chicago, Hunter held a variety of government and non-profit posts. He worked with refugees for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Europe. Then for nine years, two of them in Mexico, he worked for UNICEF...

"David Hunter married the former Barbara Avallon in 1954. He is survived by her, by two stepsons, Steven L. Moss and Daniel A. Moss, and by two grandchildren, Alexandra B. Moss and Jason L. Moss." [1]

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  1. David Hunter, Philanthropic Pioneer, Dies at 84, Alternet, accessed September 2, 2009.