The LAFF Society is an independent, volunteer-led association of men and women who have spent some phase of their careers working for the Ford Foundation, one of this nation's largest and most prominent professionally-staffed philanthropies. The Society was formed in 1991 by former staff members, led by Edward Meade, Jr. and Richard Magat, who wanted to stay in touch with their colleagues as they went on to other assignments or retired.
The New York Times noted that LAFF is believed to be the first such association in the philanthropic community and has inspired former employees of other foundations to form their own groups.*
The membership of LAFF, which includes those who served with the Foundation either in New York or overseas, has grown from about 150 to more than 480 worldwide.
In addition, local chapters have been formed in cities where members are geographically concentrated—Boston, New York and Washington in the United States, and overseas in Bangkok, Beijing, Cairo, Jakarta, Manila and New Delhi. Others are in the process of formation. The local chapters meet periodically to hear prominent speakers or to welcome visitors.
The LAFF Newsletter and website (see note about the website) are complementary vehicles for communication among LAFF members. The Newsletter, initially published twice a year, now appears four or more times annually. More than 65 issues of the newsletter have been published. In addition to articles by and about LAFF members, the Newsletter takes note of the doings, recollections, and the passing of colleagues. Members are encouraged to reminisce about their Foundation and other life experiences and to write about the issues of the day. Recent newsletters are posted on the website (www.laff society.org) and previous issues are archived there.
A directory of members is updated regularly. The directory is accessible on the website, enabling members to update their contact information electronically.
From its inception, the expenses of the LAFF Society have been covered by annual dues and voluntary contributions from members.