"It struck me how much I'd like to support not only arts but creative thinking…to honor the creative spirit no matter the discipline," Jeanne says. "At SFI they acknowledge that the creative spirit crosses disciplinary lines." -- Jeanne Klein
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Mickey and Jeanne Klein - Supporting creativity in every medium
For creativity to thrive, it must be nurtured. Mickey and Jeanne Klein have long nurtured the creative spirit through their support of contemporary art. Recently, they discovered that the same creative spirit is alive and well at SFI.
"It struck me how much I'd like to support not only arts but creative thinking…to honor the creative spirit no matter the discipline," Jeanne says. "At SFI they acknowledge that the creative spirit crosses disciplinary lines."
Jeanne used to think of science in terms of its disciplines – astronomy, biology, nuclear science, and the like. That changed last September, when she and Mickey attended their first SFI public lecture. SFI External Professor David Krakauer's Ulam Memorial Lecture on the co-evolution of biological intelligence and machine intelligence opened their minds to creative thinking that transcends and unites traditional scientific disciplines. Even more impressive, she says, was how David spoke in a way that was engaging and understandable to non-scientists.
The Kleins move comfortably in the world of contemporary art. They find that people who are new to art are often interested in what they see but afraid to discuss it. Science can have a similar effect; people without a science background are often curious but intimidated.
Jeanne says she and Mickey have appreciated the way SFI has opened its doors to the uninitiated public. Its researchers are not only willing to share their work but they are eager to explain it in a way that non-scientists can understand and get excited about.
"I love that they've reached out to people," she says. "Great minds attract great minds, no matter the discipline."
JoAnn and Bob Balzer - Art and science intertwined
SFI often brings art and science together through community programs, such as its collaborative concerts with the Santa Fe Symphony and its science-laden film screenings at the Center for Contemporary Arts. This commitment to community education, combined with its unique and interdisciplinary research, drew Dr. Bob Balzer and his wife JoAnn to the Institute 10 years ago.
"The connection between art and science is important to us because they are fields we both care about," says Bob, a computer scientist who works on artificial intelligence projects with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
JoAnn, a former college-level mathematics teacher and IBM employee, is now a community leader and arts advocate, serving on the boards of the Lensic Performing Arts Center, the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, the New Mexico Arts Commission, and the Museum of New Mexico Foundation. In 2010, President Obama appointed her a trustee of the Institute of American Indian Arts.
When the couple moved to Santa Fe in 1991, Bob found he missed the scientific lectures that were widely available at the University of Southern California. SFI has filled that need, he says. And, because SFI's lectures are open to the public, Bob feels the couple's involvement with the Institute helps support both research and community education.
Sandy and Michael Collins - SFI renames conference room to honor gift
SFI Trustee Michael Collins and his wife Sandy made a generous, unrestricted gift to SFI in late 2012. In recognition of the gift, the room previously known as the Medium Conference Room, located in the main building on SFI's Cowan Campus, is now known as the Michael and Sandy Collins Conference Room.
Collins has been President of Collins Capital since 1982. The firm today is a "Fund of Funds" invested in multi-manager strategies utilizing alternative, nontraditional investment strategies. He currently serves and has served on numerous boards in finance, venture capital, culture, and the arts. During his nearly two years on SFI's Board of Trustees, he has contributed greatly to the intellectual and fiscal well-being of the Institute.
"We are fortunate to have him with us, and we are very grateful for this generous gift," said SFI President Jerry Sabloff in an email announcement to SFI's staff and faculty.
Bill Dedmon - Taking refuge in science
Like other corporate refugees living in Taos, Bill Dedmon escaped the business world 10 years ago to be close to the things that matter – skiing and serious hiking. But lately his focus has returned to his intellectual roots in the sciences.
"I've developed an appreciation for a wide variety of topics in science," he says. "That's what turns me on about SFI. I embrace the wide diversity of thought that comes out of it."
A contrarian by nature, Dedmon has always been a dilettante rather than a specialist. Though he was a pre-med major in college, he ultimately chose the MBA program at Harvard, followed by a successful career as an investment banker.
Whether by choice or by chance, his career kept him close to science and technology as the greatest new ideas in business were coming out of applied research through the tech boom years. "It was the leading edge of capitalism in its best form," he says.
A problem Dedmon sees, in both the corporate world and among many not-forprofits, is that leaders are too focused on short-term results, often at the expense of future stability. He supports SFI because its work is far reaching, with little regard for short-term applications.
"People on the basic research side work in sort of a selfless manner," he said. "It is encouraging to me to see young scientists with enthusiasm, even ardor, for what they do.";
Sande Deitch - Science infused in everyday life
Spend five minutes with SFI donor Sande Deitch and you’ll know that “lifelong learner” doesn’t quite describe her. Her insatiable curiosity and enthusiasm are what both define her and energize her work in the arts and the sciences.
An artist by training who studied at Juilliard and the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Deitch was for two decades affiliated with the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, first as an artist, then as director of exhibitions and programs, and finally as executive director. Later, as executive director for the Bayer Foundation, she was the architect of its award-winning science literacy outreach program for children called Making Science Make Sense. Her goal was to help kids see that science is infused in everyday life.
“Science is something people think is so highfalutin,” Deitch says, laughing, “yet it’s all around us.”
After a five-year sojourn in Mexico, she moved to Santa Fe in 2003, where she settled just down the road from the Institute. Her daughter suggested that she attend an SFI Community Lecture that fall at the Lensic, and with that Deitch was enthralled.
“I wanted to know more about what they were doing up there,” she says.
She is excited to be more involved with SFI and is particularly interested in the Institute’s new Science Club for President’s Circle donors. Deitch also sits on the board of SITE Santa Fe and is a commissioner with the Santa Fe Arts Commission.
Fiquet Hanna Duckworth - Art of medicine is 'four-level-chess' complex
As a practitioner of Oriental Medicine, Fiquet Hanna Duckworth uses an integrated approach to helping her patients resolve health issues, much in the same way that SFI uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine complex problems.
"Treating a patient is like playing four-level chess," she said. "To be a good doctor and a good healer you have to look beyond the direct cause of an illness and explore other factors."
Dr. Duckworth has recently stepped back her involvement in other charities to throw all of her support behind SFI. She believes that traditional, single-issue charities cannot address all sides of the complex issues facing our world today. SFI's involvement in developing and teaching new methods to solve complex problems will produce better solutions to move society forward, she says.
As a former Montessori teacher, Dr. Duckworth is keenly interested in SFI's educational outreach to the community. She believes young people have been uninspired by traditional methods of teaching science and are ill-prepared to have critical conversations about scientific topics such as pandemic disease and global warming.
"To get a healthy society you have to get back to education," she says. "To interest kids, it has to be about real science."
Nancy Furlotti - Different ways of thinking
Los Angeles-based psychotherapist Nancy Furlotti supports SFI in part because its approach fits well with Jungian psychology, her specialty.
"We focus on the nature of behavior in all systems," she says. "And that's why SFI, which focuses on systems – the complexity of systems and problems – is quite similar to the way I like to look at things."
Jungian theory and complexity theory use archetypes or models to explain the behaviors of individual agents within a system, and the system itself. This is a broader, more comprehensive way of approaching problems and potential solutions in both psychology and science, she says.
"We need to support different ways of thinking, and SFI tends to do that," Furlotti says. "It looks at big issues and problems and thinks about them in a more global way."
Furlotti compares traditional, single-discipline scientific approaches to the story of the elephant and the three blind men, who independently conclude that the animal is like a snake, a rope, or a wall, depending on where each one feels the animal. Only a multidisciplinary perspective can consider the broader set of possible solutions.
"I think SFI is a great philanthropic investment because it supports this way of thinking," she says. "It also supports education at all levels, from postdocs and undergraduates to high-schoolers, so it's a wonderful organization that is supporting thinking across a very large spectrum."
Lou and Hank Schuyler - 'A place like SFI is sorely needed'
Lou and Hank Schuyler believe they could be the first couple to become dedicated SFI donors during a vacation. In 1994 the pair left New York City to spend several restful days in New Mexico. Both have backgrounds in science – she in information technology, he through branding and market research – so an announcement of an SFI community lecture one evening caught their attention. And they were hooked.
"This is a world of increasing specialization," says Lou, "with scientists studying the most minute details." Yet, both she and Hank appreciate how everything in the world is connected and interdependent. Hank says he has "always felt a place like SFI was sorely needed."
Six years ago, the two retired and moved to Albuquerque. They regularly attend lectures at SFI, Lou says, "to keep in touch with what's going on at the forefront of science."
Hank is pleased to have seen SFI grow and develop, citing such additions as the Business Network and a greater number of fellows. At the same time, he says, "SFI has remained true to itself…a brilliant, shining example of where innovation takes place."
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Clare and Eugene Thaw - Thaws' gift to SFI adds a quiet setting for scholarly contemplation
When Eugene Thaw first came to New Mexico, SFI's founders were still conceiving a plan to create an independent, interdisciplinary research center to study complex systems.
Almost 30 years later, Mr. Thaw spoke at a luncheon in his honor held at that Institute, minutes after signing over his former Tesuque, New Mexico, home to SFI – a gift of property and residences that constitutes the largest one-time donation in the Institute's history.
The 36-acre estate, now referred to as SFI's Tesuque Campus, includes five buildings, art, books, furniture, a meadow, a koi pond with a waterfall, and conservation easements surrounding the property.A 10-minute drive from SFI's main campus, the estate is a quiet, contemplative setting for SFI scholars, visitors, and science meetings.
Why would Thaw, a retired art appraiser, lifelong art collector and philanthropist, and his wife Clare donate their estate to a research center?
He says he's often asked a similar question: why he chose the Morgan Library in New York to receive his collection of master drawings. "I generally say this," he says. "If civilization was ending and you could save one place to start it all over again, it would be the Morgan Library, because it's Shakespeare folios, it's Gutenberg bibles, it's Rembrandt collections. It's the most incredible repository of literary and aesthetic quality that mankind has ever achieved.
"When I think about the world of science, when everything is going down the tubes and when ignorance is on the rise, if you could save one place that might start discursive thinking all over again, it would be the Santa Fe Institute. They are equivalent intellectual centers."
"This gift is with both my head and my heart," he adds. "I hope that the Institute finds, by experiment and by living with it, the right way to handle it."