The Boston Foundation’s new Gift Planning Officer, Betsy Townsend, joins the Foundation’s gift planning team with a diverse background in investments, real estate and other client-focused fields, giving her a unique vantage point for addressing planned and legacy giving. Her thoughtfulness and sensitivity make her an ideal partner for people taking on the sometimes weighty decisions that come with individual and family philanthropy. She will be working closely with Emma Penick, Senior Director of Gift Planning and Advisor Relations.
Previously, Townsend was a Senior Consultant at Bank of New York Mellon, helping her clients—including pension plans, foundations and endowments—obtain and utilize the risk and performance information needed for their investment decisions. Prior experience includes work as a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch and in residential real estate in Boston. She earned her B.A. in Art History at Trinity College and her M.B.A. at the F.W. Olin School of Business at Babson. She is pursuing her Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation, and is a member of the Boston Estate Planning Council, Planned Giving Group of New England and Women in Development.
Townsend was drawn to her current work by how neatly it pulls together her strengths and favorite elements from past roles. It entails a broad understanding of finance and market forces, and a strong ability to relate to others’ perspectives, which her time in the financial services field has cultivated. She is investment-savvy and especially loves work that involves developing relationships with individuals.
Being a realtor for 10 years honed her skills in supporting families during key decision points in their lives, and helping them define and realize their goals. Of her new role she says, “It is truly satisfying and a real privilege to be able to help people navigate complex transactions and distill their aims, sometimes even exploring the question, ‘How have I mattered?’” Townsend also appreciates that planned giving is a wonderful equalizer in philanthropy, and adds: “People whose giving during life was by necessity modest may be able to leave a more notable bequest at the end of life.” Such gifts to the Boston Foundation’s endowment, the Permanent Fund for Boston, for example, can benefit the community in perpetuity.Townsend’s broad interest in life and its stories is part of the reason she is so excited to be helping potential Boston Foundation donors. “In working through plans for legacy giving, people can realize what story they want to tell—or have told—about themselves,” she says. “Community foundations are an amazing way for people to add to their life’s story. If they are in the midst of working on an issue or trying to solve a particular problem, for example, we can help them carry on that work beyond their lifetime.”