Bill Nigreen and Kathleen McDermott

Are Leaving a Legacy to Boston

When Bill Nigreen and Kathleen McDermott began their long-term estate planning—including their legacy to the community—they turned for guidance to the Boston Foundation. 

Nigreen McDermott

Bill is a familiar figure at the Foundation, having attended many Understanding Boston forums, and is a “big fan” of the Boston Indicators Project’s research placing Boston in a regional and global context.  “The Foundation enlivens its space with thought-provoking events and opens its doors to the community,” he said during a conversation this fall.  “It does far more than make grants—it thinks strategically about the issues.   Research and strategic thinking make philanthropy much more powerful and its effectiveness can be measured.”

Through his consulting business, Facilitation for Social Change, Bill has worked with many Boston arts and cultural organizations on community building and sustainable growth.  Before launching his business, he had quality improvement roles at Analog Devices, Fidelity Investments, and New Profit Inc.

“When Kathleen and I thought about leaving a community legacy, we knew the Boston Foundation could determine, fifty years from now, where Boston’s needs will be greatest,” he said.  “I’m glad that our contribution will carry on forever and be relevant over time.”  The largest share of their community legacy is an unrestricted gift to the Permanent Fund for Boston, the Foundation’s most flexible fund and the one that addresses the broadest cross-section of community needs.   The rest will benefit the Civic Leadership Fund, which supports the Foundation’s research, forums, and public policy work, and the Boston Foundation’s Arts Fund.  “I’ve seen what a difference the Foundation’s grants have made in increasing access to the arts in Boston,” Bill explained, “and I appreciate the Foundation’s catalytic role in passing legislation for statewide cultural facilities funding.”

Both Bill and Kathleen have increasingly focused their own work on the arts.  While Kathleen began her career as attorney, today she is an artist herself and teaches History of Fashion at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  Bill serves as Chair of the Board of Overseers of Boston Landmarks Orchestra.  Both are “crazy about” opera, but you’ll find them at all kinds of Boston arts events.   “We especially enjoy exploring and supporting the amazing dynamism of Boston’s smaller arts groups.”

“Boston is a destination city for high-skilled workers and tourists alike largely because of its vibrant cultural life,” observed Bill.  “Besides such world-class venues as the BSO, MFA, and Emerald Necklace parks, Boston is a great city for post-secondary arts education.

“The arts transcend ordinary ways of thinking and portray diverse points of view.  A healthy community shares experiences, values and aspirations.  What bridges differences between people and brings communities together better than the arts?”