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Opening Doors

Dan and Susan Pfau joke that the front doors of their house, bought in St. Louis, were the only sticking point in their marriage.

Susan and Dan PfauDan and Susan Pfau joke that the front doors of their house, bought in St. Louis, were the only sticking point in their marriage.

The intricately-carved wood doors were saved from a razed building but had to be cut down to fit their Cincinnati home. The Pfaus laugh when they share that this caused some heated discussions about how to get the doors installed.

Joking aside, it’s obvious that Dan and Susan, married more than 40 years, enjoy each other’s company. They also take pleasure in the work they do through their family foundation.

“We recognize that there is a large population of people that are not as fortunate as we’ve been,” Dan said. “They are not as fortunate in the families they’ve been born into, nor as fortunate with their health and their capabilities.”

“My philosophy is ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’” Susan added.

“We had to consider what we would do with our excess resources and in our case, we felt we would share,” Dan said.

The couple established The Daniel and Susan Pfau Foundation in 1994. The independent family foundation supports their interest in programs serving disabled and disadvantaged youth, as well as programs that promote the Greater Cincinnati area.

“We’ve been conscious for a number of years that it seemed children with disabilities weren’t getting their fair share of public support, especially since they don’t vote,” Dan said. “We wanted to focus on children and adolescents,” he added. “We focus on those organizations that help their clients reach their highest potential.”

The Pfaus also started their foundation with another goal in mind — to bring their extended family together and influence the values of future generations.

Twice a year, members of the Pfau and Brill families (Nancy Brill is Susan’s sister) meet and make decisions involving grantmaking. Several family members travel from out of town. Even the Pfaus’ grandnieces and grandnephews, ages 12-16, go to meetings, read proposals and attend visits to nonprofits.

The Pfaus use The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Grantmaking Services for Private Foundations to help them achieve their charitable goals.

The Pfaus take advantage of GCF’s extensive community knowledge and its administrative services. GCF’s staff help identify grantmaking priorities, process grant requests and conduct reviews, monitor and evaluate grant recipients and administer all grantmaking activity, including board meeting management.

The couple, both Cincinnati natives, said GCF will help them leave a legacy to the city they love. “The good fortune we’ve had in this life has occurred in Cincinnati,” Dan said. “We wanted a management firm that would be here in perpetuity and we found GCF. We are very pleased with the results.”

“The resources we have are only ours temporarily,” he added. “If you’re lucky you can distribute them over the long term.”

That’s a generous way to open doors.

Originally published in the 2005 Annual Report to the Community

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