Fay Hartog-Levin, strategic adviser at the Harris School of Public Policy and lecturer at the Law School, has joined the board of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation as a trustee. In addition to her roles at the University of Chicago, Hartog-Levin is a distinguished fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the former U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands.
“I am delighted to join the Weinberg Foundation and look forward to contributing to the Foundation’s long-standing commitment prioritizing those in the greatest need in our communities,” Hartog-Levin said in a statement released by the Weinberg Foundation.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is one of the largest private charitable foundations in the country, whose mission is “to assist low-income and vulnerable individuals and families through nonprofit grants to direct-service providers,” according to the Foundation’s website.
“Many of the Foundation’s grant areas mirror my own passions and interests, including addressing hunger and better nutrition, promoting programs that help disadvantaged children to succeed in the classroom, and providing vocational training for teens and adults with disabilities,” the statement continued.
In an interview with The Maroon, Hartog-Levin noted how her previous experiences and personal background have led her to her current position.
While working as the vice president of external relations at the Field Museum, a position she held from January 1996 to December 2005, Hartog-Levin had the opportunity to meet the state senator in whose district the Field Museum is located—Senator Barack Obama.
Impressed by Obama, Hartog-Levin became involved in his first U.S. Senate campaign. This experience proved pivotal in cultivating her interest in social policy.
Hartog-Levin’s family history also shaped her commitment to the well-being of those in need. Her parents were Dutch Jewish refugees who fled from the Netherlands during World War II.
“My parents…were very committed to civil rights as well as to assisting those people who came from disadvantaged backgrounds…. Their experiences through the war and reestablishing themselves in this country, I think, gave them that commitment. So it was always a part of, in ways I didn’t realize until later, my own fabric,” she said.
According to Hartog-Levin, the ambassador position (which she held from May 2009 to October 2011) was a special opportunity because of her Dutch heritage. It was also another formative experience in influencing her perspective on global issues.
“The Dutch are among the most generous in providing development aid and assistance to their citizens who need it, and that made a big impression on me about how culture in a certain country can be more generously disposed,” she said. “Even though the Dutch are committed capitalists, they’ve got a real focus on social responsibility.”
Hartog-Levin sees potential for valuable connections between her work with the Weinberg Foundation and her work at UChicago. Although the Weinberg Foundation does not fund academic institutions, she believes that there are people in both environments who would benefit from meeting one another.
“There are some extraordinary people at the University of Chicago. For example, at the Harris School there are experts in the problems of urban communities—whether it be crime, poverty, education, or whatever—and that goes to the heart of what the Weinberg Foundation is seeking to address,” she said. “I’d be interested in pursuing whether the two could have mutual benefit.”