Dr. and Mrs. George W. Brumley, Jr. established The Zeist Foundation in 1989 to teach their five children the importance of sharing their gifts with the broader community, and to give them and future generations an enduring way to continue the family’s philanthropic legacy.
During a sabbatical from his position at Duke University, Dr. Brumley and his family spent a year in a town in the Netherlands called Zeist. It was a wonderful, bonding year for the family and, as a result, the name they chose for their family’s foundation and company.
The Brumley Family
Jean and George Brumley’s five children, George III, Beth, Lois, Marie and Nancy, were raised in Durham, North Carolina, where Dr. Brumley was on the faculty of Duke University Medical Center. In 1981, the Brumley family moved to Atlanta when Dr. Brumley was named head of the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University.
Dr. and Mrs. Brumley had been generous contributors to the nonprofit community while in Durham, N.C. The family’s foundation was not created until 1989 when the family was settled in Atlanta and the adult Brumley children were ready for trusteeship.
During the early years of the foundation, Mrs. Brumley and other family members spent their volunteer time exploring opportunities to partner with non-profit organizations that shared their mission of supporting education, children and youth, community building, health, the arts, the environment, and wildlife.
In the first 15 years of the foundation, approximately 50 non-profit organizations received annual support from the foundation. See Archive Grants
However, a few stakeholder organizations with close associations to the family received the largest grants. These included the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Emory-Egleston, Trinity Presbyterian Church, and Duke University.
Place Based Philanthropy
In the early 1990s Dr. and Mrs. Brumley adopted a “place based” approach to their philanthropy. Atlanta’s Edgewood community, then an underserved area strategically located near transportation hubs and Emory University, became the focus of their efforts.
In 1994, The Zeist Foundation made its initial investment in the Edgewood community, establishing a school-based pediatric clinic operated by Emory doctors and nurses in Whitefoord Elementary School. This collaborative partnership between the foundation, Atlanta Public Schools, and Emory University was a unique health education project and a catalyst for community building in Edgewood. See Place Based Philanthropy
Family Office Philanthropy
As the foundation approached its tenth anniversary in 1999, it became a full-time operation. In response, the Zeist Family Office was created and the foundation’s first staff member, Lizanne Stephenson, was hired as the Executive Director. Dr. Brumley had retired a few years earlier, but the presence of full-time executive directors at the foundation and the Whitefoord Community Program allowed he and Mrs. Brumley to devote more of their time to other community initiatives.
By this time, the number of organizations supported by the foundation had increased to nearly 60 per year and additional stakeholder organizations were named. These included The Hill Center (Durham, N.C.), the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Project GRAD Atlanta, the Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center, and Visiting Nurse Health Systems.
Her passion for families, music, and community development inspired Mrs. Brumley to serve on the board of Families First, Inc., the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
Dr. Brumley affirmed his commitment to public education when he embraced Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall’s signature reform effort, Project GRAD Atlanta, and served as the first Board Chairman for this initiative.
Living in Durham, N.C, George Brumley, Jr. became active with The Hill Center, a teacher development institution which aligned perfectly with the foundation’s mission.
Lois Brumley Morrell was a registered nurse and served on the board of Visiting Nurse Health Systems.
Foundation at Rest
In the summer of 2003, twelve members of the Brumley family, including Dr. and Mrs. Brumley, died in a plane accident in Kenya. In the wake of this enormous tragedy, Nancy and Marie, the surviving Brumley children, understandably decided to temporarily suspend foundation activities.
Two years later, in 2005, Nancy and Marie resumed foundation activities and committed themselves to preserving and advancing their family’s philanthropic legacy.
Soon thereafter, Kappy Kellett deButts was hired to be the Executive Director and the foundation’s mission and operating policies were reviewed. Today, the foundation not only carries on the family’s philanthropic legacy, but the board members are continually seeking new opportunities to support their community, with a particular focus on education, arts and culture, and health and human services.