Who We Are 2018-09-13T16:41:37+00:00

Who We Are

Mission & Values

The Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation’s core philosophy is grounded in the beliefs of our founders and the family’s shared Jewish values that life’s purpose is found in service to others. The mission of the Foundation is to enrich humanity by strengthening and empowering children and families in need. In the Jewish tradition of tzedakah, the Foundation works to repair the world (tikkun olam) alongside those who share our mission.

Tzedakah, derived from the Hebrew language, conveys fairness and justice. This is the closest term to “charity” in Hebrew, and stems from a fundamental belief that donors benefit from philanthropy as much as recipients. More than a financial transaction, philanthropy in the tradition of tzedakah builds trusting relationships. The Foundation is guided by tzedakah and driven by a desire to work in partnership with those inside the issues we seek to address.

The Fisher Legacy

The Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation was formed in 1955 and endowed following the death of Mr. Fisher in 2005. Together as partners in life, love, family and philanthropy, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher worked side-by-side to create meaningful impact in communities.

Mrs. Fisher was a partner in Mr. Fisher’s transformational philanthropy as was known to often encourage him to give more in times of critical need.

Beyond their many contributions, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher will long be remembered for their love and commitment to their family and for truly finding joy in their service with others.

“If you are not optimistic, it will never happen.”
Max M. Fisher z”l

Max M. Fisher

Max Fisher at home July 10, 1998. Detroit News photo by Jack Gruber

Born in Pittsburgh in 1908 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Max Fisher grew up in Salem, Ohio, where his father owned a clothing store. He attended The Ohio State University on a football scholarship and graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1930. That same year, Mr. Fisher joined his father’s oil business in Detroit before launching his own company years later. Mr. Fisher grew his company to be one of the largest gas station chains in the Midwest. Years later, in 1959, Mr. Fisher sold his company to Aurora Gasoline, a corporation he would chair for 27 years. When Aurora was later sold to Marathon Oil, Mr. Fisher invested his fortune in real estate upon retiring from business in 1963. He became a prominent leader in the Jewish community, both at home in Detroit and around the globe. A notable statesman and philanthropist, Mr. Fisher served as an advisor for numerous presidents and forged ties between Washington and Israel during crucial moments in history such as the Six Day War. Additionally, he chaired or served on countless boards and raised over $100 million for Jewish-American charities. The namesake of the Max M. Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University, and a recipient of more than 50 awards and honors, Mr. Fisher will long be remembered for his principled business and civic leadership, unwavering dedication to Detroit and impassioned advocacy for the future of Jewish people worldwide.

A case study commissioned by The Fisher College of Business describes Mr. Fisher in the following way: “[Mr. ]Fisher was an extraordinarily skilled and uniquely qualified leader. He was called ‘a builder of bridges’ more than once in his long and storied career — a reputation he earned through his strategic, typically quiet influence-building. His ability to build consensus where little, if any, had previously existed played a key role in his businesses, his community and philanthropic involvements and his roles in government and politics. Behind all of his responsibilities and accomplishments was an unwavering commitment to his country, his values, and the deeply held belief that his business training, entrepreneurial spirit and service to the greater community were intrinsically linked.”

“All giving starts with your heart.”
Marjorie S. Fisher

Marjorie S. Fisher

Marjorie S. Fisher

Born in 1923 in Louisville Kentucky, Marjorie Switow Fisher spent her life nurturing her family and teaching the growing generations. From their first date at the London Chop House in Detroit, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were partners in life, love, family and philanthropy. Married for 52 years, Mrs. Fisher would often encourage Mr. Fisher in critical moments of decision, often saying: “We have to give more.” Together, she and Mr. Fisher created the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation to strengthen their ability to serve others. “You are here for a reason; to help other people.” Mrs. Fisher had said to her family, “Everything in life is based on love and what you can do to help others. The rest is just cream – sometimes sour cream – but it’s all cream.”

Following Mr. Fisher’s death in 2005 and the creation of the permanent endowment to fuel the Foundation, Mrs. Fisher assumed the role of Founding Chair. During her tenure as Chair, the Foundation committed more than $70 million in grants with nearly 50 partners on three continents. In 2011, Mrs. Fisher transitioned from the role of Founding Chair to allow leadership to transfer onto the next generation. Mrs. Fisher expressed her gratitude for grant partners frequently throughout her lifetime, feeling as though she could never give enough to properly show her thanks. The lessons she modeled in allowing her heart to guide her decisions and finding joy in service to others continue through her family, which serves the Foundation to this day. View our Marjorie S. Fisher Remembrance.

Marjorie S. Fisher z”l

Marjorie S. Fisher

Born in 1923 in Louisville Kentucky, Marjorie Switow Fisher z”l spent her life nurturing her family and teaching the growing generations. From their first date at the London Chop House in Detroit, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were partners in life, love, family and philanthropy. Married for 52 years, Mrs. Fisher would often encourage Mr. Fisher in critical moments of decision, often saying: “We have to give more.” Together, she and Mr. Fisher created the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher

Foundation to strengthen their ability to serve others. “You are here for a reason; to help other people.” Mrs. Fisher had said to her family. “Everything in life is based on love and what you can do to help others. The rest is just cream – sometimes sour cream – but it’s all cream.” Following Mr. Fisher’s death in 2005 and the creation of the permanent endowment to fuel the Foundation, Mrs. Fisher assumed the role of Founding Chair. During her tenure as Chair, the Foundation committed more than $70 million in grants with nearly 50 partners on three continents. In 2011, Mrs. Fisher transitioned from the role of Founding Chair to allow leadership to transfer onto the next generation. Mrs. Fisher expressed her gratitude for grant partners frequently throughout her lifetime, feeling as though she could never give enough to properly show her thanks. The lessons she modeled in allowing her heart to guide her decisions and finding joy in service to others continue through her family which serves the Foundation to this day. View our Marjorie S. Fisher Remembrance.

For more information about Mr. & Mrs. Fisher, including documents and photos, please visit the Max M. Fisher archives at maxmfisher.org.

Trustees

As beneficiaries of our founders’ legacy, and as stewards of the values intended to distinguish our family for many generations, we will preserve the heritage entrusted to us, protect and grow the resources placed in our care, and convey to our children, and theirs, the essence of joyful philanthropy that is modeled within the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation.

“I believe that the family, acting together, creates more impact than any one individual.”

— Max M. Fisher

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Phillip Wm. Fisher
Chair

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Marjorie M. Fisher
Vice-Chair

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David Fisher Sherman
Vice-Chair

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Jane F. Sherman
Vice Chair

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Amanda Fisher
Vice-Chair

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Andrew C. Sherman
Vice-Chair

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Julie Fisher Cummings
Vice-Chair

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Caroline Cummings Rafferty
Vice-Chair

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Alissandra Aronow
Vice-Chair

Staff

The staff of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation strives to provide an equitable, transparent and responsive grant partner experience. Inspired by Mr. and Mrs. Fisher’s legacy of compassion, we are deeply committed to the idea that life’s purpose is found in service to others.

“While the approaches may change as the generations change, the core of our work remains the same, strengthening families.”

— Marjorie S. Fisher

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Douglas Bitonti Stewart
Executive Director

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Cynthia K. Rowell
Director of Learning and Impact

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Meredith Freeman
Director of Alignment and Impact Investing

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Jennifer Ludwig
Program Partner

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Chelsea R. Landry
Program Associate

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Brianna J. Suarez
Program Associate

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Jennifer Riker Fahnestock
Grants & Operations Manager

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Margaret M. Shumaker
Executive Assistant to Douglas Bitonti Stewart

Financial Information

Accountability extends beyond the requirements of the law.  We vow to uphold the code of transparency that our founders valued and to practice philanthropy in ways that reflect fundamental values, including honesty, integrity, fairness, and trust.  The trustees and staff will be transparent to the communities we support, and all grant recipients. The Foundation and those who represent it will strive for the highest possible standards of ethical conduct and encourage the same standards from our grantees.

Financial Information

Accountability extends beyond the requirements of the law.  We vow to uphold the code of transparency that our founders valued and to practice philanthropy in ways that reflect fundamental values, including honesty, integrity, fairness, and trust.  The trustees and staff will be transparent to the communities we support, and all grant recipients. The Foundation and those who represent it will strive for the highest possible standards of ethical conduct and encourage the same standards from our grantees.

248.415.1444 info@mmfisher.org
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Southfield, MI 48076