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Eric & Susan Wiseman Awarded AFP Outstanding Philanthropists

Posted: 10/13/2015

NC-Triad AFP Nomination: Eric and Susan Wiseman


Eric C. Wiseman is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of VF Corporation, and is a business leader in the apparel industry. Wiseman holds a bachelor's degree in business and an MBA from Wake Forest University. He serves on the Board of Directors of Lowe's Companies Inc., CIGNA Corporation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), as well as the Board of Visitors of Wake Forest University School of Business. He is married to Susan Wiseman who is a very active community volunteer.

Eric and Susan Wiseman have lived in many different places and now enjoy Greensboro as their home. They understand the impact of how volunteerism and philanthropy can change lives and give hope to those in greatest need. When Susan was asked about what she loves most about Greensboro she replied, "the people. [Greensboro] is the most generous community we've ever lived in," she said. "So many people here give back in many ways to help other who may be less fortunate." (from the UWGG Annual Report 2013-2014)

Listed below are of four organizations where the Wisemans have dedicated significant resources and leadership, motivating creative and generous philanthropy through their enthusiastic example:

Greensboro Science Center
Together the Wisemans recently donated $1 million to expand the SciQuarium at the Greensboro Science Center, which "marks the single largest private gift to the center in the history of the 57-year-old organization." Susan serves on the Board of Directors on the Executive Committee and chairs the Development Committee; and Susan and Eric co-chair the GSC Think Big! Campaign, now in its quiet phase. Their support has been transformational for the Greensboro Science Center.

Communities in Schools
As a loyal mentor at Dudley high School with the Communities in Schools program, Susan said her motivation for serving others is simple, "I love working with high school students. They're a tough crowd, but they are survivors and it is their last chance at a good life if they get a high school degree. I like working with 'last chance' kids. It means so much to them and they are so proud of themselves when they accomplish what no one else believed they could accomplish. Every kid needs someone to believe in them."

United Way of Greater Greensboro
For 28 years, Susan and her husband Eric Wiseman have supported United Way. "If you go around the world, you will find no other country where people feel a desire to help others the way we do," she said. "It's in our DNA! And there are so many ways to give, not just financially but with your time. A few hours reading to a child or helping to serve at a food kitchen goes a long way. United Way encourages us to give to our community and works hard to help us do that." Susan is a Tocqueville Society donor and dedicated volunteer with United Way of Greater Greensboro. She serves on the Women's Leadership Council, chaired two United Way Women in Philanthropy Luncheons with more than 700 attendees each, and serves as a mentor to high school students.

Wake Forest University
Eric has served as the Chair of the Board of Visitors at the School of Business at Wake Forest University since 2012, and has been a member of the board since 2003. Additionally he has shared his knowledge and expertise with our students by participating in two CEO Business panel discussions led by journalists Charlie Rose and Al Hunt. Susan and Eric Wiseman are Founding Donors to Farrell Hall, the new home for the School of Business. Susan lent her expertise to the project by leading the design of the Founder's Living Room, the key student space in the building.

For the purposes of this NPD Nomination, the following illustration highlights details of their gifts, participation and impact of their work for the Greensboro Science Center, as well as more specifics on how their particular skills were creatively gifted to address needs and bring new perspectives and innovative thinking and leadership to a current campaign:

The Wisemans have given gifts to the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) for both annual and capital campaigns, including a recent historic $1 million pledge. Their most recent pledge marked the largest single private gift ever given to the GSC and will enable the center to expand the Carolina SciQuarium with a major transformation including new tanks filled with cold and warm-water fish and invertebrates. Upon opening the new gallery, the GSC will rename the facility the Wiseman Aquarium in honor of Susan's and Eric's extraordinary support and leadership.

In addition to landmark gifts to the GSC, Susan also gives of her time, talent and passion in remarkable ways. She serves on the Board of Directors, on the Executive Committee, and chairs the Development Committee, which oversees the GSC's annual See to Believe Gala. Susan has served as the event chair or co-chair for two years in a row, including last year's gala which attracted more than 500 guests and raised nearly $60,000 in only its second year.

Susan and Eric also co-chair the GSC Think Big! Campaign, now in an early, quiet phase of outreach. She spends countless hours reaching out to her network, sharing her passion for and belief in the GSC vision and its unique positive impact on Greensboro and the Triad. Susan's gifts of time and treasure have set a "new day" bar for the GSC. Certainly their $1 million gift signals to the philanthropic community that the GSC is worthy of significant personal investment and advocacy, yet it has also allowed the GSC to reach out to the community from a more empowered position than ever before. Susan's personal involvement has fueled renewed energy bringing her network of community leaders to the GSC campus -- bringing new donors and volunteers and event attendees to the doors and into GSC's community of supporters.

Additionally, Eric and Susan have also demonstrated their support for the GSC by announcing a surprise matching gift challenge to engage new leadership donors for the GSC. This gift has been instrumental in encouraging new donors that they have helped connect to the GSC. A number of leadership donors have called out the Wisemans' remarkable generosity as their inspiration for participation as a leadership donor in the Think Big! Campaign. Isn't this exactly what the NPD award is meant to recognize?!

Susan brought creative leadership and hands-on energy to the planning of the first annual See to Believe Gala. Many ideas sprouted from Susan's vision. She never missed a meeting and she hand-wrote countless notes to friends and colleagues inviting their participation and sponsorship. This is the kind of leadership that truly makes a difference in a campaign's success!

Susan contributed more unique skills than the traditional campaign chair expectations by co-writing and editing the centerpiece printed case for support for the Think Big! Campaign, bringing relentless eye for detail and accuracy to a mission-critical piece. Currently, Susan brings critical thinking to nearly every proposal that goes before prospective leadership donors and attends Behind the Scenes Tours, engaging prospects and answering questions, another way this couple has worked tirelessly and generously to set a new and higher bar for philanthropic leadership.

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