A few weeks ago J Mullineaux, our Vice President for Philanthropic Planning, had the great honor of interviewing two exceptional people and philanthropists at the Redwood Empire Estate Planning Council monthly membership meeting.  Steve Oliver and Jean Schulz are well-known in our community for their generosity, and over the course of the evening, the seventy guests in attendance had the opportunity to hear some of the stories and experiences that drive their philanthropy today.

Jeannie, who grew up in Mill Valley and Fallbrook, California, describes her town as being one where “everybody helped everybody.”  Steve’s childhood in the Bay Area taught him that “the world was a diverse place filled with interesting people,” and both learned from their families that “giving back was their responsibility as fortunate members of the community.”

Jeannie Schulz is a founder of the Community Foundation and a champion of community philanthropy, supporting the causes closest to her heart and encouraging others to do the same.  For Jeannie, she counts on the Community Foundation’s expertise to inform and guide her decision-making. “Who’s doing the best job?” she asked. “Who’s doing something new?”

Steve Oliver established Oliver Ranch in Geyserville sort of by accident; what started as a goat farm to appease his daughter’s love of goats evolved into the home of eighteen innovative, site-specific art installations created by world-renowned artists.  Today, Oliver Ranch is a supporting organization of the Community Foundation, assuring that the vision of the ranch continues into perpetuity.  For Steve, the choice to work with the Community Foundation over establishing his own family foundation was clear: “Rather than leaving your family with a burden, you’re leaving them with a solution,” he said.  The burden of decision-making—what to support, who to support, how much to support them, for how long—moves from family members to professionals, creating a balanced and trusted partnership to fulfill philanthropic goals.

Through stories, reflection, and laughter, we caught a glimpse of the passion and purpose that drives these two humble and generous individuals.  We are fortunate to be in partnership with Jeannie and Steve to improve this community and place that we call home.

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