It was a “very circuitous route,” says Schwab Charitable President Kim Wright-Violich (left), referring to her “eclectic” career path. She leads this top donor-advised fund (DAF), which has had more than $5 billion in contributions and has granted out more than $2 billion to charitable causes. A 50 Top Women in Wealth alum, Wright-Violich is on the advisory board that will convene shortly to select the 2011 AdvisorOne 50 Top Women.
Wright-Violich was an undergrad science major at Stanford University, and held a sales post at Union Carbide after college, but a sudden family event drew her back to California to be closer to her siblings. Back on the West coast, Wright-Violich worked in real estate development and some family businesses, married and had a family. She began working in philanthropy, “sitting on non-profit boards” while her children were young, and then “when they were school-age, wanted to reengage in a different kind of way.” Wright-Violich explains that she “enjoyed the non-profit work that I did.” She got involved with KQED, the public television station in San Francisco, and “loved it!”
As Schwab Charitable was starting up, Wright-Violich had a meeting with the person who was running the fund. The executive was very capable, but felt it wasn’t a good fit for herself—telling Wright-Violich, “’it’s a better fit for you.’” That was 11 years ago, and Wright-Violich hasn’t looked back.
While the first decade at Schwab Charitable was “removing barriers to giving,” Wright-Violich says, the next decade will be to remove “psychological barriers,” helping donors to gauge the effectiveness of the non-profits there are selecting to grant money out to.