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Quixote Foundation

Erik M. Hanisch expands on a fourth-generation legacy of progressive compassion.  He is inspired by a family tradition of helping others, and driven by a strong personal commitment to social and political action.  Although his Quixote Foundation colleagues have dubbed him “lofty romantic,” he leads a practical approach to grantmaking that includes a healthy dose of advocacy and encourages diverse organizations to work strategically together.  Erik has been a Quixote Foundation board member since 1997, and the foundation’s president since 2002.  He has played bass in several bands, all the while secretly wishing he was the drummer.


Lenore M. Hanisch brings expertise in journalism and event management to her triple roles as Quixote Foundation family member, board member and, since 2003, executive director (a/k/a The Energizer E.D.).  Her activism begins by choosing green, socially equitable and progressive ways to manage home and office, and it extends to working closely with grantee organizations, promoting their overall health as well as specific initiatives.  Lenore’s board colleagues have described her as “new and lovely” for her refreshing approach to Quixote Foundation’s work.  “I am going to save one seven-foot diameter tree, even if I actually have to hug it,” says Lenore of her current priorities.


Strong role models have encouraged director Martha Vukelich-Austin to put her concern about social issues into action through volunteer work for many nonprofit groups and political campaigns.  She is dedicated to progressive change, improving the world her children live in and encouraging them to become activists in turn.  The Quixote Foundation board regards her as "good medicine" for the way she combines obvious passion with thoughtful ideas.  Martha feels she is the lucky one, to be able to serve: "All of us benefit by being able to make a difference on these important issues."


Called a "cool firecracker" by his Quixote Foundation peers, director Rick Langer is a shamelessly progressive activist disguised as a trust and estate attorney.  His thoughtful role in board discussions is informed by 30-plus years of experience helping families make multi-generational decisions.  Rick has a soft spot for social justice and hospice issues and a gift for considering Quixote Foundation’s work at the most fundamental level—the real-life impact grants can have on individual human lives.


Amber Rossino grew up in an activist family in a college town, surrounded by the lively conversation of professors, local and international students, and members of a sustainable food co-op founded by her parents.  She learned a deep curiosity about how each person around her sees the world and chose anthropology, archaeology and museology for her own university studies.  Her professional background managing art collections is perfect for the role of Quixote Foundation administrative manager, caring for the valuable work our nonprofit partners create.  Amber is a yoga practitioner and musician.  Her colleagues describe her as "a voice into song" for the way every new idea she hears becomes a note in the growing composition of her own world view.

The Quixote Foundation wants to see:

Free people in fair societies

on a healthy planet.

Our priorities evolve with current events.

Don Quixote holds the position of muse to the Quixote Foundation board of directors. 

At 400 years old, he is the board’s senior spokesperson, although not its most diplomatic voice.  From time to time Don is accused of being delusional, but he is much loved around Quixote Foundation for his willingness to throw himself into the path of danger to promote his ideals.  When board members look to Don for counsel, he consistently encourages risk-taking for high rewards. 


Email Don for more information about the Quixote Foundation.

Text Box: IDEALISM}                                                                  {PASSIONATE


Founder Arthur Stuart Hanisch grew up as part of a prominent and wealthy family in a U.S. social climate shaped by the Great Depression and World War II.  His awareness of the gap between his own affluence and the circumstances of others surfaced early.  He was born in 1932, the same year the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped.  Fearing for Stuart’s safety, his parents sent him to school in a limousine.  Although very young, Stuart insisted on being dropped off a few blocks away, resisting a privilege he realized others couldn’t share.

This intuitive response matured into a lifelong concern for social fairness.  In 1962 Stuart used hidden cameras and wireless microphones to document housing discrimination based on race.  When the University of Wisconsin refused to complete

the film, he resigned a staff position there in protest.  He continued to promote civil rights, participating in the non-violent sit-ins and demonstrations that helped build support for the Civil Rights Act, and serving on the local and state NAACP boards.

Over time, Stuart devoted energy and money to social action that ranged from reducing the influence of political advertising to documenting endangered species restoration.  He created Quixote Foundation in 1997 and began making formal grants for diverse organizations in the U.S. and abroad. 

For the next five years he remained engaged with many of the organizations the foundation funded, holding them—and himself—accountable for living out the values and principles they claimed.  Stuart could afford luxury, but chose to live modestly instead.  He saw the foundation’s role as secondary to nonprofit groups and their leaders, saying “Money provided doesn’t deserve credit—what people and organizations do, does deserve credit.” 

Stuart died in 2002 and his son Erik became president.  Stuart gave Erik complete freedom to decide how his own values would be expressed through the foundation.  While Quixote Foundation’s interests have evolved under new leadership, they’ve continued to reflect Stuart’s influence.