LAFF Society


In Memoriam, Spring 2019


Donald Stewart, who had a long and varied career in higher education and philanthropy, died of a heart attack April 7 in Chicago, where he most recently had been chief executive officer of the Chicago Community Trust. He was 80.
Early in his career, from 1962 to 1969, he was a program officer for the Ford Foundation’s Overseas Development Division, working primarily in Nigeria, Egypt and Tunisia.
He had earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Grinnell College and a master’s degree from Yale University, and studied for two years at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, before going to work for Ford.
When he left the Foundation, he earned another master’s degree and a doctorate, both in public administration, from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. While pursuing his doctoral studies, he was associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, director of its College of General Studies, an assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning, and counselor to the provost of the university.
He was named president of Spelman College, an historically black women’s institution in Atlanta, in 1976, though the announcement of his hiring sparked protests at the campus by students who wanted an African-American woman to head the school. But he remained in the post for a decade, spearheading drives that raised the college’s endowment from $9 million to $41 million.
He left Spelman in 1986 to become president of the College Entrance Examination Board, and during his 12 years there developed initiatives that helped improve the academic preparation of high school students of color and those facing financial hardships.
He spent a year after leaving the College Board working at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, where he was a senior program officer and special adviser to the president for grant-making in higher education and teacher education. 
In 2000, he became head of the Chicago Community Trust, one of the oldest and, with $1.2 billion in trust funds and annual grants of $50 million, largest charitable community trusts in the country. As its CEO, he focused on fund-raising and diversity.
After he retired in 2004, he was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, a visiting scholar at the Erikson Institute and a member of the boards of The New York Times Company, the Campbell Soup Company and Grinnell College.
President Barack Obama named him to the Commission on Presidential Scholars in 2010.
He is survived by his wife, Isabel Carter Stewart, former executive director of the Chicago Foundation for Women; two sons; and eight grandchildren. 
Marion Pendleton, who worked at the Foundation for 22 years as a secretary and administrative assistant, primarily in the Human Rights and International Cooperation unit, died April 3 in a hospice. The cause was cancer. 
“Marion was not especially extroverted,” said a colleague, Mayra Peters-Quintero, “but had a quiet strength and exuded grace. Those on her team know that she was funny and kind, and fiercely loyal. She knew how everything worked and who to reach for anything. If you had a problem, Marion would solve it.”
She started at Ford in 1994 as a secretary in the International Affairs Program and joined the Human Rights unit five years later as an administrative assistant. She then was successively promoted to Senior Administrative Assistant, Administrative Coordinator and, in 2013, Department Coordinator.
She retired in 2016.



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