A conversation with philanthropist Ann P. Wyckoff

The Seattle Symphony’s 2015–2016 Opening Night Gala paid tribute to local philanthropist Ann P. Wyckoff. Ann is an ardent supporter of arts and education in the Puget Sound, and she and her family have played a significant role in building the cultural landscape of our city.

We sat down for a conversation with Ann to learn more about her family, her approach to philanthropy, and what makes Seattle such a unique place to live.

You and many of your family members are Seattle residents. Did you ever consider living in a different part of the country?

I’m a third-generation Northwesterner, but my family felt that it was a good thing to go East to school, although my dad wasn’t crazy about me going there all through college. He was afraid I’d meet someone, marry and live there the rest of my life. I went to a junior college in Boston, then Stanford — I always wanted to go to Stanford, it was where my parents had met — and then to the University of Washington, where I got my graduate degree in social work.

I do have to laugh because my own children — I have one son and five daughters — went all different places to school and yet they’ve all come back here too. People would say, “you must be the most wonderful parents,” but I think it has to do with the atmosphere this city provides. The fishing, the skiing, the hiking in this part of the country; that has brought them back here. I am just thrilled that they’re here.

You have long been a philanthropic leader in this city. What advice would you give to the next generation who will follow in your footsteps?

You learn by example. It’s a credit to my parents and my grandparents. They’re my source of inspiration. My grandfather was very interested in developing the city. I do think I’m blessed.

This new generation has to have a personal interest in an issue. They need encouragement. Introduce them to people who are making a difference. You can’t just say, “this is what you do to make an impact.” You have to be inspired. You have to learn by doing. Like a family that grows and learns together.

You have to have a vision and a passion for what you’re doing. People have to feel like they have a stake.

What do you think makes Seattle such a unique place?

The people are willing to do what needs to be done. It gives them pleasure to see the city grow. Seattle is a forward-looking city, and it’s big enough that there are a lot of points of view about how to do things. People here have a sense of ownership and we take pride in showing off our city to people.

Is there a concert you’re particularly looking forward to hearing at the symphony this season?

I’m especially looking forward to Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 on January 7. It’s one of my favorites!

The Seattle Symphony thanks Ann for her vision, leadership and generosity!

Posted on December 15, 2015