Interview with WPI Alumni, Susannah and Buck Williams

Buck ’15 and Susannah Williams ‘15 with their daughters Bebe, Cameron, and Palmer

Susannah ’15 and Buck ’15 Williams took some time to catch up with Caroline Brinton ’10 to discuss their experience with the Weaver Philanthropic Initiative.

_____________________________

Q: What do you do in your daily lives?

A: Buck focuses his time working with 50-60 successful families, executives, foundations, endowments, and corporate entities with the Beard Williams Group at UBS Private Wealth Management. Susannah is busy at home and around town with their twin daughters and a very active five-year-old.

_____________________________

Q: Currently, what issues are you putting your philanthropic resources toward as a couple or individually?

A: We continue to focus our time, talent, and treasure on local education in general and closing the opportunity gap in particular. Specifically, we work with Tiger Academy and KIPP, both located in Northwest Jacksonville. Buck lends his time and financial acumen by serving as Treasurer on the boards of JPEF and the Sanctuary on 8th Street. We are also involved with MOSH and the new vision of MOSH Genesis, which we believe will enhance education and innovation in Jacksonville and will transform the museum experience and Northbank of Downtown.

_____________________________

Q: Do your giving styles (regarding time, talent, treasure, or ties) vary, or are they similar? How so?

A: Throughout the last year, navigating the pandemic has been challenging for everyone. We have tried to stay focused on philanthropic issues while managing a sense of normalcy on the home front. It is hard to juggle it all, and honestly, time is limited for Susannah with three small children. Buck continues to lend his time and talent to the organizations in which we believe. We are hoping to get more involved as a family as we explore this new terrain.

_____________________________

Q: Growing up, were there any lessons your family taught you about philanthropy?

A: Absolutely; philanthropy and leadership were both ingrained in our daily lives growing up. We were both taught at an early age how important it is to give back. Our parents and grandparents set a high bar, and it is something we want to foster in our children. Growing up, we volunteered our time and what little treasure we had to local organizations and those in need in our community. We were encouraged to find a cause we cared about to donate a portion with every monetary birthday or Christmas gift. Although it was not much, it created a foundation for philanthropy.

_____________________________

Q: WPI has seen many couples participate in the Program, some in the same class and some in different classes. What appealed to you about participating in the same year?

A: It was a wonderful learning experience for us and encouraged us to talk about what was truly important in terms of our values as we started our family. It helped us get to know each other in a different way and generate conversations we may not have had.

_____________________________

Q: What concepts, experiences, or ongoing opportunities resulting from your involvement in the Weaver Philanthropic Initiative have proven valuable to your philanthropy?

A: The Weaver Philanthropic Initiative was a wonderful experience for us. Smart giving is something we talk about a lot. We want to make an impact and give back in a thoughtful and worthwhile way. We also learned so much from our classmates and the many other leaders involved with the Program. Listening to what was important to others genuinely inspired us and expanded our knowledge of our community’s needs.

_____________________________

Q: How do you continue to use the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, at large, as a resource for your philanthropy?

A: The new friends we made and the like-minded networks The Community Foundation has helped create and foster would likely be the most valuable resource for us. It is easy to live in a bubble. The Community Foundation allowed us the opportunity to expand our philanthropic network and meet, work, and grow with others we may not have crossed paths with otherwise. We have also taken advantage of the amazing events, forums, and other gatherings that have further expanded the Weaver Philanthropic Initiative’s life-changing experience.