50 Meetings in 50 Days: The 1971 & 1972 Annual Meetings

Registration for SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting will open May 15 – between now and then, we’re going to take a look back at the history of SECF’s signature event and how it’s evolved over the years.

Following a successful organizing meeting in 1970, the Annual Meeting truly earned its name by returning to Atlanta in 1971. The meeting would remain there through 1972, with day-long agendas focused primarily on the still-new legal and regulatory landscape facing foundations in the region.

1971 Annual Meeting

When: October 14-15, 1971
Where: The Atlanta American Motor Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia
Notable Speakers: William Archie (Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation), Randolph Thrower (attorney and former IRS Commissioner), Dr. John Griffin (Southern Education Foundation)

This was the first Annual Meeting to span more than one day – though the first day consisted solely of a reception and "Dutch treat" dinner in downtown Atlanta.

The Tax Reform Act of 1969 was still a hot topic of conversation, and the Annual Meeting agenda was largely focused on nuts & bolts, with sessions on tax compliance and administrative effectiveness. SECF also continued formalizing itself as an organization, with members discussing a charter, by-laws and the need for office space.

The was also the first Annual Meeting to include an address by the Board chair – in this case, William Archie of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.

Underscoring the meeting's simplicity were its registration fees: free for members and $6.00 for non-members to cover the cost of food and beverages.

1972 Annual Meeting

When: October 19-20, 1972
Where: Sheraton-Biltmore Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia
Notable Speakers: William Archie (Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation), Alexander Heard (Chancellor, Vanderbilt University), Robert Goheen (Chairman, Council on Foundations)

The third Annual Meeting was the first to welcome a speaker known mostly for their work outside of philanthropy. Alexander Heard, the chancellor of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, spoke to attendees in a morning session. There's no record of what Heard discussed, but his biography provides plenty of context. Over nearly 20 years as Vanderbilt's chancellor, Heard proved himself to be a strong leader, particularly during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. He invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to speak on campus, as well as Black Power advocate Stokely Carmichael, later known as Kwame Ture. Heard also frequently met with student groups, including more radical organizations, and served as an advisor to Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. At the time he spoke to SECF, he had just become board chair of the Ford Foundation.

Heard also proved to be a prescient political prognosticator. In 1952, he published a book, A Two-Party South?, that correctly predicted the region would eventually become a politically competitive environment – at the time, Southern Democrats held a monopoly on power through most of the region, and in many states the Republican Party was virtually nonexistent.

David Miller is SECF's director of marketing and communications.


Southeastern Council of Foundations
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Visiting SECF:
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Mission: SECF strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.