“We want to be a change agent in the state,” Tom Ross told Todd Cohen in an interview for the Business Journal of Charlotte back in 2002.
And so he was.
Flying in the face of all the noise and cries of “besmirching” one of North Carolina’s great leaders coming from NC Policywatch’s Rob Schofield, Civitas recently discovered an article detailing the fundamental changes enacted by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation under Ross’s tenure.
Cohen’s article describes “sweeping changes in grantmaking” of Z. Smith Reynolds, an ideological shift in North Carolina’s largest philanthropic organization that relegated its traditional grant recipients (historical preservation, health care, construction and capital campaigns, etc.) in favor of more “progressive” organizations. These new beneficiaries would hail from the realms of “social, economic, and environmental justice.”
With the then newly selected Tom Ross at the helm, Z. Smith Reynolds took a sharp left turn and became actively engaged in the practice of “backing progressive public policy.” Now he is to be the next UNC System President.
John Hood of the John Locke Foundation summarized the implications of this shift to left-wing activism saying the Z. Smith Reynolds “is going to give less money to charities providing direct services to the public and more money to public policy charities of the left-wing variety.”
Hood added, “I suspect that the previous generations of the Reynolds family who engaged so successfully in our capitalist system would be horrified to find how much their money will be used to subvert that very system.”
So much for being a “mainstream group, funding mainstream causes,” as Mr. Schofield described Z. Smith Reynolds under Ross’s administration. Ross played a lead role in diverting the focus of Z. Smith Reynolds from a well respected philanthropy foundation to a sweetheart of liberal activist groups of all flavors.