Outgoing Seasongood Foundation executive celebrates four decades of support for good government
David Altman, known nationally for his environmental advocacy and as an advisor to social justice organizations, has announced his retirement after serving as Executive Secretary of the Seasongood Good Government Foundation, and its predecessor funds, for 44 years. Altman will continue to practice environmental law as president of AltmanNewman Co. LPA.
“It has been a great honor to serve this vital and important foundation that was established in 1987, and to serve its predecessor funds of the University of Cincinnati and the National Civic League for 12 years before that,” Altman said. “The foundation would not exist without the generosity of Murray and Agnes Seasongood. Their vision of better government and active civic engagement in Cincinnati has driven our board’s grant making over the past four decades.”
Since taking the helm of the Seasongood funds and the foundation, Altman has managed the distribution of millions of dollars in grants to hundreds of organizations in the region. The foundation’s current assets are $7 million.
Altman cites the foundation’s funding to establish and support Citizens for Civic Renewal, which helped lead the successful initiative for a campaign finance reform charter amendment approved by Cincinnati voters in 2001; and for local government news coverage on WVXU, which continues today as sponsorship of the local affairs program Cincinnati Edition, as among the significant contributions the foundation has made to civic life during his tenure.
Altman’s first project was to establish a Cincinnati City Hall internship program, which continues today. “Public servants — from department directors to budget directors to city managers — all over the country got their start in Cincinnati as a Seasongood intern,” he said. The foundation has supported more than 170 city hall interns since Altman established the program.
“Murray Seasongood was dedicated to inspiring citizens to directly take part in local government,” said Fanon Rucker, Municipal Court Judge and Seasongood Foundation President. Seasongood led the local government reform movement in the 1920s, founding the Charter Committee and serving as the first mayor elected under the city’s new charter from 1926 to 1930. “We’re grateful to Dave for inspiring generations of civic-minded residents to engage in their community and with their government.”
Altman has also been active in many philanthropic circles, most notably as a founder of the Donor’s Forum of Ohio, the forerunner of Philanthropy Ohio, a Columbus-based professional organization for foundations and philanthropists.
More than 240 people attended a community forum hosted by the foundation in February to learn about community organizing and to network with other civically-minded people. Altman will continue to follow up on the action steps that emerged from the forum. The Seasongood Board has selected Ignite Philanthropy to support the board of directors in managing grants administration and other activities of the Seasongood Foundation in the future. Grant applications will continue to be approved quarterly.