Newell Flather Honored with American Textile History Award

2012 Community Service Award recognizes 40 years of philanthropic leadership

The American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA has honored Newell Flather with the 2012 Community Service Award. Mr. Flather, president of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation in Boston, has been considered a respected leader in the field of philanthropy for more than 40 years.

“Through his engagement and philanthropic advocacy, Newell Flather has had a profound impact on our community, contributing to the success of countless artists and nonprofits that so richly improve the quality of life in the Merrimack Valley,” said Jonathan Stevens, ATHM President and CEO. “Newell truly demonstrates the ideals of community and service. He is very deserving of this award and our deepest appreciation and gratitude for all he has done to make our community a better place to live, work and visit.”

Since 2000, the Community Service Award has been given annually to an individual or individuals who have shown outstanding community service through their good works, exemplary volunteer service, compassion, and involvement with the ATHM and the community. The 2012 award was presented at a gala on Friday, November 2.

“Lowell is fortunate to be home to the American Textile History Museum, a national treasure that preserves and celebrates the rich history of the textile industry, both past and present,” Mr. Flather said, upon receiving the award. “The Stevens family deserves an enormous amount of recognition for not only creating the Museum, but for ensuring its strong future. It is truly a privilege to be honored by such a worthy institution in the company of my family and friends and such a wonderful cross-section of Lowell’s outstanding nonprofit community.”

Mr. Flather was presented the Community Service Award by Nancy Donahue, chair of the gala committee, a previous recipient of the award, and the Presenting Sponsor of the gala along with her husband Richard. The gala, held at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center, included a performance by the Angkor Dance Troupe of Lowell, one of the many cultural groups in Lowell to have received generous support from Mr. Flather and the Parker Foundation.

A graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Flather holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MA in History with a certificate in African studies from Columbia, where he was a Ford Foundation International Fellow. He taught high school in Ghana from 1961-63 as a member of the first Peace Corps volunteers to go into service.

In 1974, he was a founding trustee of Oxfam America, which today raises more than $75 million annually for projects in the developing world. In 1982 he co-founded GMA Foundations (formerly Grants Management Associates), one of the first and largest philanthropic advisory firms in the US, serving some 35 foundations.

Mr. Flather served as president of GMA Foundations until 2007. Today, he serves as President of the Parker Foundation and a trustee of the Fund for the Arts, the Rebecca Pomroy Foundation, and the Susan A. and Donald P. Babson Charitable Foundation. He also serves as a member of the investment committee of the Parker Foundation and the New England Foundation for the Arts.

Mr. Flather has worked extensively with foundations in developing innovative and effective ways to for them to engage with grantees and provide assistance beyond grants. He is recognized for his early initiative in creating new community foundations throughout New England, including the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.

An active volunteer with many local organizations, he currently serves on the Development Committee at the Massachusetts Historical Association and the Personnel Committee for the American Textile History Museum, among many others.

Newell Flather lives with his wife Kate in West Newton and has a family home in Gloucester, but says he is proud to have been raised by the “village” of Lowell.

About the American Textile History Museum
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA is nationally recognized for unique collections, programs, and exhibits celebrating the innovation, creativity, and human spirit that have shaped our world. ATHM has dedicated more than 50 years to preserving the past and shaping the future by telling America’s story through the art, science and history of textiles. In addition to its core exhibition, Textile Revolution: An Exploration through Space and Time and rotating special exhibitions, ATHM holds the world’s largest and most important publicly held collections of tools, spinning wheels, hand looms, and early production machines, as well as more than five million pieces of textile prints, fabric samples, rolled textiles coverlets, and costumes.