Louise A. Havens, W.W. Smith Charitable Trust

TITLE: Medical Grant Administrator

FUNDING AREAS: Medical research for heart disease, cancer, and AIDS

CONTACT: 610-397-1844

IP TAKE: Havens, whose oil magnate father founded the trust that employs her, oversees more than a million dollars in grants annually to researchers finding cures and treatments for heart disease, cancer, and AIDS.

PROFILE: The W.W. Smith Charitable Trust is very much a family organizationthe legacy of a wealthy man whose progeny have carried on his commitment to human progress. It all began when William Wikoff ("Bill") Smith, international oil tycoon, created the W.W. Smith Foundation in 1951 as a way to spend his fortune for good. The trust focused on improving the quality of life for people in the Philadelphia region, where Smith's business operations were based. In 1973, however, the Philadelphia Maritime Museum absorbed the Smith Foundation, and their combined assets eventually led to their modern manifestation, the Independence Seaport Museum. The Philadelphia landmark is a massive monument to maritime history, complete with Admiral Dewey's ship from 1898 Battle of Manila Bay.

Not wanting his philanthropic efforts to stop when he died, Bill Smith provided for the creation of the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust in his will. Launched in 1973, the trust's current setup relies on Smith's living relatives, who play some pretty hands-on roles in the day-to-day operations. The primary trustee is Mary Smith, Bill's wife. Bill and Mary's daughter Deborah McKenna is one of the trust's advisers. And their other daughter, Louise A. Havens, is the administrator for the trust's medically focused grants.

Havens keeps a pretty low profile. Considering the more than $9.7 million the trust spent on grants in 2012 with more than $1.5 million of that going to medical researchHavens's Internet presence is minimal. With the exception of some canned-ish quotes in a PR piece by the Wistar Institute (a non-profit biomedical research entity), Havens is notably absent even from standard-issue, just-the-facts-ma'am-style grantee press releases where one generally reads about program officers. That Havens does not relish the limelight, however, does not diminish the (monetary) impact she has on the medical research community.

The W.W. Smith Charitable Trust's medical research grants hover in the $100,000 range, with the money going to scientists and organizations seeking treatments and cures for heart disease, cancer, and AIDS. Here's a sampling of recent medical research investments (all of which are one-year projects):

  • $100,000 to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania to support an investigation of the "regulation of the tumor microenvironment by macrophages"
  • $104,000 to scientists at Drexel University College of Medicine to examine "preventing HIV-1 infection by inactivating the virus before host cell exposure"
  • $100,000 to Temple University for the heart disease-related and highly cellular/technical-sounding endeavor of researching "novel receptor cross-talk governing myocardial survival signaling"

In addition to medical research, the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust also makes grants in the areas of scholarships for undergraduates and food, clothing, and shelter for children, families, and the elderly. Depending on what you want monetary support for, be it medical research or otherwise, the trust has funding application deadlines at various points throughout the year. Know that your organization does have to be a non-profit entity, with a current IRS 990 form, to be eligible for Smith funding.