The Zeist Foundation was established in 1989 by Dr. George and Mrs. Jean Brumley. For Dr. and Mrs. Brumley, there were two primary objectives for the creating the Zeist Foundation: to teach their five children the importance of sharing their gifts with the broader community, and to give their children and future generations an enduring way to continue the Brumley family’s philanthropic legacy.
The name for the Zeist Foundation was born out of a joyous year the Brumley family spent together in the town of Zeist, Netherlands where the family lived while Dr. Brumley was on sabbatical from his position at Duke University. The time the family spent in Zeist was wonderful and served to strengthen further the already strong bond among the Brumley family members. In recognition of the importance of the family’s time spent together in Zeist and of the treasured memories they made while living there, they chose the name “Zeist” for the family’s foundation and company.
The Brumley Family
Dr. and Mrs. Brumley’s five children (George III, Beth, Lois, Marie and Nancy) were raised in Durham, North Carolina where Dr. Brumley was on the faculty of Duke University Medical Center. In 1981, Dr. Brumley was named the head of the the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University and the family moved to Atlanta.
While living in Durham, Dr. and Mrs. Brumley had been generous contributors to the nonprofit community. Once settled in Atlanta, the family became involved in philanthropic efforts throughout the city. In 1989, the Brumley family’s foundation was created and the adult Brumley children were granted trusteeship.
During the early years of the foundation, Mrs. Brumley and other members of the Brumley family spent their volunteer time exploring opportunities to partner with non-profit organizations that shared their mission of supporting education, children and youth, community building, health, the arts, the environment, and wildlife. During the first 15 years of the foundation, approximately fifty non-profit organizations received annual support from the foundation. A few stakeholder organizations with close associations to the Brumley family received the largest grants, however; these organizations included the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Emory-Egleston, Trinity Presbyterian Church, and Duke University.
In the early 1990’s, several years after the founding of the Zeist Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Brumley adopted a “place-based” approach to the foundation’s philanthropy. The focus of their philanthropic efforts became Atlanta’s Edgewood community, an underserved-area strategically located near transportation hubs and Emory University.
In 1994, The Zeist Foundation’s initial investment in the Edgewood community was made through the establishment of a school-based, pediatric clinic that was operated within Whitefoord Elementary School by physicians and nurses from Emory University. This collaborative partnership between the Zeist Foundation, Atlanta Public Schools and Emory University was a unique health education project which served as a catalyst for future community-building efforts in the Edgewood community.
Family Office Philanthropy
As the Zeist Foundation approached its tenth anniversary in 1999, the philanthropic organization became a full-time operation. In response, the Zeist Family Office was created and Lizanne Stephenson was hired as the Executive Director and the foundation’s first staff member. At this time, The Zeist Foundation was providing support to nearly sixty organizations and additional stakeholder organizations were named, including The Hill Center (Durham, N.C.), the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Project GRAD Atlanta, the Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center and Visiting Nurse Health Systems.
The eventual presence of full-time Executive Directors at both the Zeist Foundation and at the Whitefoord Community Program allowed Dr. Brumley (who had retired a few years earlier) and Mrs. Brumley to devote more of their time to other community initiatives. Dr. Brumley affirmed his commitment to public education through his service as the first Board Chairman for Project GRAD Atlanta, a signature reform effort of Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall. Mrs. Brumley, meanwhile, was inspired by her passion for families, music and community development to serve on the Boards of Families First, Inc., the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
While living in Durham, North Carolina, George Brumley III became active with The Hill Center, a teacher development institution which was well-aligned with the Zeist Foundation’s mission.
Lois Brumley Morrell was a registered nurse and served on the Board of Visiting Nurse Health Systems.
Foundation at Rest
In the summer of 2003, while traveling in Kenya, twelve members of the Brumley family, including Dr. and Mrs. Brumley, died in a plane accident. In the wake of this enormous tragedy, the surviving Brumley children (Nancy and Marie) made the difficult yet understandable decision to temporarily suspend Zeist Foundation activities.
In 2005, Nancy and Marie Brumley resumed Zeist Foundation activities. At this time, they committed themselves anew to preserving and advancing their family’s philanthropic legacy. Soon thereafter, Kappy Kellett deButts was named the Zeist Foundation’s Executive Director, and the organization’s mission and operating policies were reviewed.
Today, the Zeist Foundation not only carries on the Brumley family’s philanthropic legacy, but the board members are continually seeking new opportunities to support their community, with a particular focus on education, arts and culture, and health and human services.