Sillerman Center Draws Crowd for Inaugural Philanthropy Lecture

January 30, 2008

Philanthropy expert Joel Fleishman inaugurated the opening of the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at the Heller School with a standing-room only lecture calling for family foundations to become more transparent and accountable, while also crediting them with nurturing and empowering social change such as the environmental revolution, women’s rights, and the civil rights movement.

Fleishman, a former trustee at Brandeis and professor of law and public policy at Duke University, praised the Sillerman Center for targeting family foundations, helping them become more effective, accountable, and strategic in their philanthropy.

Robert Sillerman ’69, and his wife, Laura, established the Sillerman Center to promote activist philanthropy that leads to social, community, and policy change. The Sillerman Center will provide research-supported advice on effective grant-making strategies, develop best practices, and help successful ventures reach scale, according to executive director and professor Andrew Hahn.

Sillerman said the inspiration for the center grew out of his Brandeis education during the tumultuous Vietnam era.

"We became the generation that responded to things by not saying yes or no, but why," said Sillerman, describing the growth of social conscience and activism synonymous with the sixties.

"This center will be the culmination of what an education in the sixties was," said Sillerman. "I don’t know if we’ll change the world, but if we play a small part in changing the conscience of my generation and the generation behind me, we will have done something."

In opening remarks, Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz described his two-decade friendship with the Sillermans, saying "the core values of social justice and concern for society is really what permeated our conversations."

"The Sillerman Center is a wonderful opportunity to change the world of philanthropy," noted Reinharz.

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