P. Russell Hardin, Robert W. Woodruff Foundation

TITLE: President

FUNDING AREAS: Education, health, human welfare, the environment, community and economic development, philanthropy and volunteerism, and the arts

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: In the varied educational landscape of Georgia, Hardin has chosen to ally with private and charter schools and is investing in their facilities. He is also a key figure in supporting the cultural and environmental infrastructure of greater Atlanta.

PROFILE: An attorney by profession who received his law degree from Duke University, P. Russell Hardin has been with the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation since 1988. Beginning as secretary of the foundation, Hardin later became the foundation’s treasurer, then vice president. In 2006, Hardin became president of the Atlanta-based foundation, which was established in 1937 by Robert W. Woodruff, longtime chairman of the Coca-Cola Company.

Hardin also is active in other Atlanta-area foundations, including the Joseph B. Whitehead, Lettie Pate Evans, and Lettie Pate Whitehead foundations, positioning him as one of the most influential philanthropists in Georgia.

Tight budgets and rising demands often force state and local policymakers to act in crisis mode, addressing immediate needs at the expense of longer-term investments in infrastructure. In this type of policy environment, philanthropic organizations often provide a source of funding for projects, activities and facilities that contribute to the life of a community. Hardin and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation fill that gap by funding projects that impact the cultural, environmental, and educational infrastructure of Georgia—in particular, greater Atlanta. Organizations outside of Georgia may receive funding if they can demonstrate that the funded activities will have an impact on Georgia students and schools. But of the Woodruff Foundation’s overall grant activities, which totaled nearly $156 million for education, cultural activities, health, human services, environment, and public affairs, less than 1% went to organizations outside Georgia.

Higher education accounts for most of the education grants given by Hardin, with Emory University being the largest recipient. (The foundation supports the Woodruff Scholars Program at Emory.) Elementary and secondary education represented only 14 percent of the foundation’s overall education grants, and its giving in that area indicates a clear preference for private and charter schools over traditional public school systems.

In addition to the educational landscape, Hardin and the foundation support the cultural landscape of Atlanta, funding capital maintenance of the Woodruff Arts Center, as well as other cultural facilities in Georgia. The foundation also invests in Georgia’s overall physical environment, supporting ecological restoration, beautification, and improvement projects.