MEET OUR PRESIDENT: Dr. Francis Charhon
Dr. Francis Charhon|
President, Friends of Fondation de France and CEO, Fondation de France
In 2000, Dr. Francis Charhon founded Friends of Fondation de France, the organization for which he now serves as president. Over the span of his long career, Dr. Charhon has founded and led several grantmaking organizations. In 1992, Dr. Charhon joined Fondation de France, the largest grant-making charity in France, where he acted in several capacities before undertaking his present role as CEO.
Dr. Charhon began his career in medicine. A specialist in anesthesia, he practiced in a hospital setting before joining Médecins Sans Frontières in 1976. Over his over 15 year career with this organization, Dr. Charhon served as both president and chief executive officer and opened the organization’s first U.S. office.
What inspired your participation in philanthropy?
The spirit of philanthropy is to help people. This spirit has been a part of me since I began my career as a doctor 35 years ago, with the goal of helping to alleviate suffering. My work worldwide with Médecins Sans Frontières, Fondation de France and other organizations has enabled me to help many different kinds of individuals, in a variety of ways. My current role as president of Friends of Fondation de France is a natural extension of these activities.
In philanthropy, there are three main ingredients. You must have the cause. You must have the resources. And, you must have a tool to allow an investment in the cause. My work with Friends of Fondation de France gives American donors a tool they can use to support the best charities in France and in Europe.
Friends of Fondation de France has been in existence for seven years. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Our ties to Fondation de France have allowed us to work on an impressive variety of projects. American donors helped the students of the Ecole Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel, a school in Paris, by providing funding to build a new Arts & Science Center, which will house a theater, new science labs and art studios. We are proud to have helped the HEC School of Management receive donations from their many alumni who now live in the United States. These donations will go towards fundraising to help integrate foreign students on the campus and to enhance teaching. Friends of Fondation de France has also supported the Festival d’Automne in Paris, where every year large audiences view innovative, forward-looking performances.
How is Friends of Fondation de France unique?
Fondation de France is very well-known in France. There is a high level of confidence in its work to solve problems both inside and outside of its borders. Donors who give to Friends of Fondation de France benefit from the Fondation’s 40 years of experience and the breadth of its work. Currently, the Fondation de France supports 20 programs in France in fields such as health, medical and scientific research, social services, culture and the environment. Through its programs and its foundations, the Fondation de France supports associations in France and worldwide. The Fondation does significant research to pick the best projects to support. This offers Americans who give to Friends of Fondation de France the assurance that their funds will be used for the purpose for which they are intended.
Why is a philanthropy like Friends of Fondation de France necessary?
Philanthropy has become a very international activity. A global view is needed to solve global problems. When it comes to giving, global donors need a global answer. Friends of Fondation de France offers Americans an avenue for participating in philanthropy in France, Europe, Asia and the many other places in which Fondation de France has programs.