Michael Allan McIntosh (1933 - 2015)

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Michael Allan McIntosh, noted environmental philanthropist, died May 7, 2015.
Michael McIntosh guided his family's foundation since 1971 with creative vision, a passion for justice, and a deep sense of civic responsibility. Today, The McIntosh Foundation is one of the most respected private foundations in the areas of environmentalism and public interest law. Michael labored to perfect an entrepreneurial approach to grant making to leverage the Foundation's mid-sized budget into an effective means of creating social improvement. He has been a presence, both as an individual and a Foundation officer, in the flowering of the modern environmental movement and in the field of public interest law, cultivating creative solutions to deeply rooted social and economic problems.
Born on November 18, 1933, Michael McIntosh was raised in New York City in the closely-knit, athletic family whose lively dinner table conversations always turned to the family business, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P). Although the talk was often very practical, aimed at preparing the children for what the family presumed would be their eventual careers, they instead absorbed more from the underlying themes: never to take more than you need from the world and give back gratefully to the society that made your good fortune possible.
Michael attended the Choate School in Connecticut, where he competed in the quarter-mile track event and spent four happy years at his studies. At age eighteen, during a grueling summer job on A&P fishing boats, Michael was exposed to what would become his life's passion – the Alaska wilderness. Returning home to enter Haverford College, Michael sustained a serious head injury in a car accident, and was hospitalized for many months. Although able to start school mid-semester, his spirit was never fully engaged by college life. Michael's insatiable curiosity instead forced him to seek another sort of education. Michael began to travel throughout emerging and impoverished nations, where he gained a firsthand understanding of the vulnerability of the world's natural resources and the need to help disenfranchised people to create positive change. Over the next several years, working as a roughneck and derrick hand for a family-owned oil company, he witnessed profound poverty in Haiti. He subsequently went on to spend another four years in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma learning the complexities of finding and producing oil and gas.
In the mid-1960's, Michael's food industry connections led him to a job establishing distributorships for A&P products in the Middle East. Over the next several years, he traveled widely in Lebanon, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia before returning to the United States and the family business. He met and Married Winsome Dunn in 1967, and after spending 8 years in Chicago and New York, they finally settled in Palm Beach, Florida.
In the early 1970's, as Michael and Winsome cared for both his ailing father and their young children, Michael also faced a professional crisis at A&P when he fought successfully to sever the costly relationship of the Hartford Foundation with the A&P, to restore control of the McIntosh Foundation to family members, and to begin to rebuild its endowment. Michael finally left the A&P to become the full-time Director of the McIntosh Foundation in 1971. His position among family foundations is unusual in that he both shapes the giving policies and also manages the assets. During his tenure, the Foundation's assets have gone from a low of $5 million to over $40 million today.
In addition to the more than 1,200 grants that the Foundation has awarded to support the work of non-profit groups, Michael's deep commitment to the public interest is well illustrated by his service on other boards as well. His past board memberships include the Medgar Evers Fund, National Audubon Society, the National Commission on Superfund, The Wilderness Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund, and the Urban League of Palm Beach County. He has also served on the boards of Physicians for Peace, Southern Legal Counsel, and Florida State University Foundation. Until his death, Michael served as a Founder and Director of ClientEarth, the first public interest law firm for the environment established in Europe.
Michael leaves a lasting legacy in Alaskan conservation with his founding and running The Boat Company for over 30 years. The Boat Company is an eco-touring non-profit company designed to give a wilderness experience to thought leaders in communities across the country by educating them through their water experience to the value of sound management of old growth forests demonstrated by the vast Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.
Among many formal recognitions that Michael has received are the Founder of Justice Award from the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, Resolution of recognition from the University of Florida Levin College of Law for founding the Center for Government Responsibility and the initial Executive Impoundment Project which successfully won the landmark Supreme Court case declaring impoundment of Congressional mandated funding for education unconstitutional during the Nixon Administration, the Community Service award from the Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach, the service award of the Chicago Legal Clinic, and the United Church of Christ's Racial Justice Award, and an athletic building named after him in honor of his contributions to the track & field program at Florida State University.
A Memorial Service will be held Monday May 18th at 2pm at St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Washington DC, followed by a reception at the Cosmos Club between 4pm and 6pm.
Published in The Juneau Empire from May 15 to June 14, 2015
Arrangements under the direction of:
Joseph Gawler's Sons, LLC
5130 Wisconsin Ave NW | Washington, DC 20016 | (202) 966-6400
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