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Our CEO: William S. White

William S. WhiteWilliam S. White, in his role as chairman and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, is a frequent speaker on a wide range of issues related to the field of philanthropy and the management of private foundations.

In addition, each year he authors an annual message that appears in the Foundation's annual report; topics have ranged from the need for openness and accountability and appropriate governance to the importance of maintaining a long-term focus on one's grantmaking.

Following is a list of selected interviews, speeches and writings along with a link to each publication in our database.


  • "A Century of Organized Philanthropy," an article in the Winter 2011 issue of Philanthropy Magazine, asks several philanthropic leaders including White to look both backward and forward and answer two thought-provoking questions: “What is the single most daring, audacious and successful grant of the past 100 years?” and “What grant will people be talking about 100 years from now?”
  • White shares some observations about engaging in productive collaborations with governmental agencies in the January 2011 online edition of the Foundation Center’s Funder’s Forum.
  • In the Autumn 2010 issue of Philanthropy UK Quarterly, White talks about the key elements needed to build cohesive, thriving communities, and also the importance of partnerships between government, business and the nonprofit sector.
  • In an interview published in the June 2010 edition of Alliance magazine, White talks about Mott’s commitment to its home community of Flint, Mich. — and the opportunities and challenges involved in local grantmaking.
  • Foundation News & Commentary magazine interviewed White at the time he received the Council on Foundations' 2002 Distinguished Grantmaker Award.

Speeches and Honors

  • The Council on Foundations honored White for his enduring commitment to the community foundation field in October 2014 at the annual conference for community foundations in Cleveland, Ohio. Mott initiated its first planned program of grantmaking for community foundations in 1979 and since that time has granted more than $150 million to support the national and international expansion and capacity of these locally-based philanthropic institutions.
  • President Bronislaw Komorowski of the Republic of Poland honored White and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation on November 12, 2012, along with representatives from several other foundations that have contributed to the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. The Officer’s Cross of Merit award — given in appreciation of the role the Mott Foundation has played in building independent, active and viable nongovernmental organizations working for the public good — was presented at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.
  • The Community Foundation Network (CFN) — an organization that promotes the community foundation field in the U.K. — gave the first-ever Beacon Award for Services to Community Philanthropy to White. Presented during the Beacon Prize celebration in London, White was honored for his “creative and innovative approach to leveraging new money into communities.” [November 2010]
    • View a video of the Beacon Award ceremony in London. [3:16]
    • Read about the award.
    • Read an article about the award on the Philanthropy Impact website.
  • European Foundation Centre 20th Anniversary Celebration — As part of the European Foundation Centre’s 20th anniversary celebration, which included White being awarded the EFC’s first-ever Philanthropy Compass Prize, he gave a short address. His speech reflected on the walls — real and imagined — that can separate people, and the important role philanthropy can play in bridging those divides and creating a more civil society. [November 10, 2009]
    • Read the full speech.
    • View EFC's tribute to White and his contributions to the field.
    • View video of the Compass Prize presentation.
  • Vision, Values, Voices: Launching the Ray Murphy Lecture Series is a set of remarks delivered by White to launch the Ray Murphy Lecture Series. Ireland’s President Mary McAleese gave the inaugural lecture on January 25, 2008, at University College Cork.
  • Afterschool programs: Giving hope and help to all our children is a speech delivered by White in which he highlighted the importance of afterschool programs and their growth in the U.S. and abroad. [2005]
  • Leadership: Nine Challenges for Transformation is a speech delivered to the Board of the East West Institute in New York in April 2002. The speech focuses on the important challenges facing contemporary nonprofit leaders.
  • In April 2002, White delivered a lecture at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) titled Flint's Corner Drugstore. The lecture was part of the Waldemar A. Nielson Issues in Philanthropy series. White's remarks covered some of the lessons learned throughout the evolution of the Mott Foundation.
  • The importance of foundations staying true to their founders' legacies, but also adapting to a changing world, was the focus of Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future, a speech delivered at the Annual Conference of the Council of Michigan Foundations in November 2001 in Detroit.
  • Independent Sector, the national association of nonprofits and foundations, invited White to give the opening keynote speech at its annual conference in Atlanta in November 2001. The Challenge of Nonprofit Leadership: Building a Transformed World focused on the challenges for nonprofit leaders in a world forever changed by the events of September 11, 2001.
  • In March 2000, White delivered an address to Foundation staff and Trustees about the history of the Mott Foundation. Looking Back at Five Eras: The Mott Foundation's First 75 Years provides a historical perspective on the evolution of the Foundation since its establishment in 1926.

Annual Messages

Each year, as an introduction to the Foundation’s annual report, chairman and CEO William S. White contributes a personal message, generally focusing on a topic related to philanthropy or the nonprofit sector. Annual messages dating back to 2000 can be read or downloaded here.