San Francisco It speaks to the very core and character of an institution – and its founder – when an institution can really honor the contributions of its founder and director for 34 years with class, confidence, conviction, and courage the way that the Tides Network of foundations, nonprofits, and sundry philanthropic enterprises did last night on the Presidio grounds for Drummond Pike. There were laughs, heartfelt thanks, and, despite the best efforts, teary eyes as the Tides board, senior staff, and a few old veterans with long service and commitment to Tides like Michael Kieschnick, head of Working Assets / Credo, Russell Long, son of the first Tides board chair, and myself joined with Drummond and his wonderful family, Liza, Rachel, and Max to footnote the history and mark the transition to the future. Orchestrated by incoming CEO Melissa Bradley, it was a special event and a wonderful gift for all of us who were lucky enough to be there.
Pictures flashed on the wall of old events and Drummond decades younger at the same time various people took their turns hurling good natured jibes and special appreciations. Kieschnick shared his first story of Tides which would resonate with thousands when to his surprise he finally realized that he was not going to be given money for his new project, but was being offered a home for his idea where he would be paying the rent. Emmet Aluli, the good doctor of Molokai, probably surprised many though as he related the little known but critical role that Drummond and Tides had played in supporting the native Hawaiian activists in stopping the Navy bombing of the sacred island nearby and preserving land for the future. Joel Solomon commenting on Drummond’s contribution to creating new resource and philanthropic presence in Canada along probably will have some folks asking questions later about what they might have really meant.
All of which spoke to some of the grace and integrity that Drummond has brought to leadership of Tides over many decades and which has inspired such loyalty and commitment to the organization. Tides under Drummond was rare in the philanthropic world because it was home of the big heart, rather than the big head. An institution that grew from nothing to one of the 100 largest charities in the United States under his hand, but could still be called “little known” after the hate speech of Glenn Beck and Fox provoked a gunman to administer rough treatment, which was luckily foiled in a gunfight with area police. Typical of Drummond and Tides one of the last “family” events like this one had brought the recovering police, the heroes on the scene, and their bosses for an appreciate joined by more than 60 of the staff only months ago.