Interview with WPI Alumnus, Mac McGehee

Mac McGeheeMac McGehee ’03 has the longest history with TCF of all of our Weaver Philanthropic Initiative Alumni. On May 1, 1964, Mac’s father, Tom McGehee, co- founded Florida’s first Community Foundation. What was then known as the Greater Jacksonville Area Community Foundation is now known as The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. Mac has enjoyed a front row seat to this growth since his childhood.

It is only fitting that Mac’s daughter, Courtney McGehee, will be the first second generation WPI graduate this May! Read Mac’s interview to learn about his family’s traditions around giving and why the McGehees continue to choose TCF as their home-base for philanthropy.

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Q: What do you do in your daily life?

A: I’m an Executive Vice President of our family business Mac Papers, one of the largest wholesale distributors of paper and print, packaging, facility supplies and office products in the Southeastern United States. I also serve on two boards—the Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation Board in a voluntary capacity and on the District Board of Trustees at Florida State College at Jacksonville, which is appointed by the Governor.

My wife Terri and I are proud to call Jacksonville our home. We’ve raised three daughters here and feel very blessed that, although they are grown, they still enjoy spending time with their parents! Our time together typically centers on outdoor activities with our dogs and horses or boating throughout our beautiful local waterways.

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Q: Tell me about your family’s founding history with The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.

A: That conversation will take us all the way back to 1964. At the time, my father Tom McGehee was working in the family business known as Jacksonville Paper Company founded by my grandfather, Clifford Graham, and his brothers Rives and Clyde. Dad recognized the need for a charitable foundation to serve the needs of the community and collaborated with some of his friends to draft a charter for what would become known as the Greater Jacksonville Area Community Foundation. The goal at that time was to provide philanthropic leadership in Jacksonville to address community needs and encourage charitable giving. While I was a young boy then, I can recall conversations my father had with the Executive Director of the new Foundation, Byon Morris. Decades later, Byon helped me set up my own family donor advised fund.

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Q: How would you describe your family’s traditions around giving?

A: The McGehee family, starting with my dad Tom and his brother Frank, has contributed to the local community for more than 50 years, supporting a wide variety of charitable causes including medical, family and education. It’s not only important to my immediate family, but to my sister Dede, my late uncle Frank’s children David and Sutton McGehee, who are Mac Papers’ CEO and President, respectively, to their sister Ann Riley, to our spouses, and to our children, some of whom are working in the family business.

My strong Christian faith also lends an important dimension to my family’s traditions around giving, towards expanding the message of Jesus Christ in our community, country and around the world.

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Q: What aspects of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida in 2019 continue to make you choose it as a home-base for your philanthropy?

A:  A major benefit of working through the Foundation is that it provides us with the ability to focus on the enjoyable part of gifting with the assurance that the necessary administrative and reporting requirements will be handled efficiently and professionally by the Foundation’s staff.

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Q: Your daughter, Courtney McGehee, is currently participating in the 2019 WPI class and she is first second-generation participant. What excites you most about Courtney participating in the Weaver Philanthropic Initiative?

A:  Participating in WPI is giving Courtney the opportunity to make an informed decision about what her most meaningful and personally fulfilling philanthropic path will be. As an added bonus, her participation in the program has provided me with an opportunity to share my viewpoints and feelings about the importance and responsibility of philanthropy with Courtney and her sisters.

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Q: What recommendations can you give to other philanthropic leaders looking to joyfully and thoughtfully transition leadership to the next generation in their families and/or companies?

A: Start conversations concerning the importance of giving as early as possible and involve your children in the decision-making process when selecting which organizations to support. It’s important to instill in them from a young age the importance of giving back and caring for the communities in which they live, work and will raise their families.

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Q: How does your giving reflect the legacy you wish to leave?

A: Family- and faith-centered values and spreading Jesus Christ’s teachings of love and healing are extremely important to me. Supporting Christian-based and healthcare organizations that help enable a sound mind, body, and soul is perfectly aligned with what I hold dear. I can’t imagine a gift to my loved ones that’s more meaningful than that.