Lisa Blunt Rochester has been serving Delawareans for her entire life. She was elected Delaware’s U.S. Representative in 2016. Prior to her election, she served in numerous public roles in Delaware, in the cabinets of two Delaware Governors, and as CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League. But her work goes much further. Her enthusiasm, her passion for Delaware and for Delaware’s youth, and her strong belief in the power of philanthropy, including through her GLOW fund at DCF, make her a natural addition to our 5Q series.
Why is philanthropy important to you?
Philanthropy is one of the very best aspects of our American way of life. The American people have always been remarkably generous with their resources and have organized and fundraised to make the lives of their fellow citizens better. Philanthropy is important to me for a simple reason – it makes people’s lives better. It not only benefits the recipient – but enriches the soul of the giver as well.
What first motivated you to get involved in philanthropy?
Frankly, it was the same thing that motivated me to run for office in the first place. I saw others in my community that were either mad, sad, or struggling. I have been immensely blessed in my life and like my decision to run for office, decided I had everything to give and nothing to lose. I imagine that my motivation is the same as so many others – it feels good to help others.
Where do you see the greatest potential for philanthropy to drive change in Delaware?
I don’t think there’s any particular limit or scope to the potential for change in Delaware that philanthropy can drive. A philanthropic effort is simply an extension of the desire, will, and generosity of everyday citizens. Whether it be to help drive cancer research, expand social services in the community, or any other worthy endeavor, the beauty of philanthropy is that, so often, it is driven by the will of the citizens.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through your work in philanthropy?
I’m not sure it’s a lesson that I have learned, rather one that has been reaffirmed in my work – the power of community. So often philanthropy is discussed in the context of wealthy individuals. In my experience, however, the power of philanthropy is to bring folks together. The process of finding a cause, rallying support, and ultimately being able to give to that cause is truly rewarding.
How does your philanthropy contribute to expanding opportunity for people in Delaware?
It is my hope that my philanthropy provides a helping hand to Delaware families. In my experience, kindness begets kindness and opportunity begets opportunity. So often it’s the case that folks who are dealt a bad hand simply need a little help. That once they are given a leg up and an opportunity, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish. My goal is to give as many Delawareans that helping hand as I can.