The Sundance Compact

The Nathan Cummings Foundation


The Sundance Compact

Andy Golden
Trustee, Nathan Cummings Foundation

Lance E. Lindblom
President / CEO, Nathan Cummings Foundation

The Founding of Nathan Cummings really involved the partnership of the second generation, meaning Nate’s children, and their own children who were about 30 at the time, the ones who were most active. The foundation has some wonderful core values of inclusiveness, but that inclusiveness was in conflict with the fact that the family not just wanted to be involved, but be involved in a very significant way and tables can only get so big and we had worked through a number of kind of algorithms for how to deal with this issues. Kind of ideas of queues and people would get in line and they would each take their turn. All of this was in the—against a backdrop of a fourth generation that was really coming of age and in some instances was particularly impatient to get a seat at the grown-up table. 

And so the problem that was trying to be solved by the (Sundance) compact was how do associates get involved when they want to become trustees. We had developed a system for selecting the outside trustees, which was unbelievably rigorous and therefore the family—the foundation was comfortable and had experience with a committee selection process, and so the basic idea of the compact was to turn that selection process, that committee selection process to look at the family itself, so there are three family members on the selection committee and three outside trustees that go through this process and the group of six, three family members, three outside trustees meet and deliberate and opinions are expressed in the—a closed room, but it’s actually left the outside trustees to do the actual voting and what happens in the selection committee stays in the selection committee, so to speak, so I think my sense is that that allows for really good and open discussion or at least as much as we could have. 

And so like many other issues, this is exactly where the outside trustees can be helpful as a way of actually keeping cohesion across the family and actually keeping the family engaged. It’s an irony that you can look at the outsiders as being the ones that help the family be more of a family.