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Doug and Joanne Wise of Grantham, members of the Spaulding-Potter Legacy Society. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Doug and Joanne Wise of Grantham, members of the Spaulding-Potter Legacy Society. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Dreaming with Purpose

Joanne and Doug Wise are members of the Charitable Foundation's Spaulding-Potter Legacy Society, a group of generous citizens who have who have bequeathed resources to strengthen New Hampshire communities. They share their thoughts on global citizenship, community work — and dreaming with purpose

Members of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Spaulding-Potter Legacy Society are generous citizens who have bequeathed resources to strengthen New Hampshire communities by naming the Foundation in their wills or estate plans. The society is named for former New Hampshire Governor Huntley Spaulding and his sister, Marion Potter. The Spaulding family earned its fortune in manufacturing, and left that fortune for charity. From 1957 to 1972, the Spaulding-Potter Trusts gave $16.8 million to causes from health care to education to the environment, and started many nonprofits. But its trustees didn’t want to simply empty the trust fund; they wanted to build a permanent source of philanthropic capital to address community needs in New Hampshire forever. They used the final $2.7 million in the trusts to seed the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Other generous people embraced the idea and added funds of their own, during their lifetimes and through their estates. The Foundation, which started with less than $3 million from the Spaulding and Potter bequests, now is comprised of nearly 1,900 funds totaling more than $750 million and distributes more than $40 million in grants and scholarships every year.

Doug and Joanne Wise of Grantham join more than 600 other generous New Hampshire families who are members of the Spaulding-Potter Legacy Society. We asked them about their travels, their community and nonprofit work and their charitable philosophy. 

You have travelled all over the world and lived abroad, but you chose to focus your philanthropy in the Upper Valley.  Why?  

Joanne: We lived in Japan for four years when Doug worked for a global advertising agency.  We continue to seek and create new learning experiences, like taking cooking lessons with a local chef and painting with local artists in their studios, as we had done in such countries recently as France, Ireland and Israel. Doug was also instrumental in the creation of Dartmouth Partners in Community Service in 1995, which sets the gold standard for undergraduate interns to work in nonprofits around the country with the unparalleled mentorship role for an alumnus/alumna.

Doug: What we saw around the world we also see here in the Upper Valley… so we can bring that global story here very easily. One of the things we enjoy is being able to share in the Upper Valley’s good fortune, especially in ways that bring people closer together through the arts and world cultures. In a sense, we are global ambassadors for our local communities.

Our passion to learn and share cultural insights continues here in the Upper Valley. We moved here from Bronxville, New York in 1993. I graduated from Dartmouth in 1959. We love the Upper Valley’s thriving arts community, natural beauty, intellectual stimulation, and the way people are willing to talk to each other. Diverse people think differently from each other; so, you cultivate an interactive dialogue.

 You immediately became involved in various kinds of community work when you came to New Hampshire. Would you talk a bit about that work and why you do it?

Joanne: Doug, as a change agent and visioning consultant under the name “The Wise Associates,” worked with for-profit and non-profit organizations. He has served as president of the Dartmouth Class of 1959; chair of the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce; trustee of Upper Valley Land Trust; chair of the board of governors of Leadership Upper Valley (a program of Vital Communities); member of the advisory council for Ledyard Financial Advisors; consultant to Northern Stage, King Arthur Flour, Hartford, Vermont Area Chamber of Commerce; and Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center and Hood Museum.

Doug: Joanne started or counseled with non-profit arts organizations under the banner of “The Wise Collection.” Joanne was instrumental in the launch of the Upper Valley Arts Alliance, which promotes the region’s thriving arts community. She was also executive director of the master-level North Country Studio Workshops; chair of the Charitable Foundation’s Upper Valley Regional Advisory Board; consultant to the Upper Valley Land Trust; advisor to the Alliance for the Visual Arts (AVA); and member of the Worcester Art Museum Executive Committee for Collections which adds to her credibility in the Upper Valley. We gifted works of art from The Wise Collection — a collection of Japanese and Japanese-inspired prints, drawings, and ceramics that Joanne curated over 30 years — to the Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, and the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts with the sole stipulation that any work be used as a teaching tool.

Why did you decide to work with the Charitable Foundation?

Joanne: When it came time to plan our estate, we wanted to continue to support the local communities, causes and organizations that mattered to us. Our attorney, Gary Brooks, suggested doing so through the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. It was almost a no-brainer.

Doug: We created the “Joanne and Doug Wise Family Fund,” a designated fund in perpetuity for areas in education and the arts that support artistic values and vision in the Upper Valley.

Talk a little bit about your own philosophy and mission for your philanthropy.

Joanne: We don’t have kids, so the world is “our kids.” As global ambassadors, we feel that we have brought the world to enhance the well-being of Upper Valley communities.

Doug: We are pleased to be able to leave a permanent legacy of good works for the region. We live by Walt Disney’s credo: “Here’s to dreaming with purpose … and to the good fortune and wisdom to achieve those dreams.”