Donald and Nancy deLaski formed their foundation and began investing in the greater DC community in 1999 when their good friend Reggie Brown helped form a partnership with Howard University to start a free clinic for asthmatic children. Don deLaski struggled with asthma all his life and wanted their funding to educate families on how to manage the condition, information that had not been available to him growing up.
This led to the foundation’s first partnership with Dr. Floyd Malveaux from Howard University Medical School and the creation of the Merck Childhood Asthma Clinic. Don placed another bet on another doctor, James Gordon, founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine at Georgetown University, and a Harvard Medical School graduate, who embraced alternative medicine early on. At Don’s request, Jim initiated research on alternative treatments for asthma, which related closely to work he was doing on post-traumatic stress disorder. Jim began bringing ground-breaking, cost-effective techniques to war zones, post-Katrina New Orleans, Haiti and is now helping veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. (Read NYT article here.)
The deLaskis transitioned to a more formal foundation in 2005, adding to the board their two locally based children, Ken and Kathleen deLaski. Ken deLaski was co-founder of Deltek, Inc. with Don and succeeded him as CEO in 1996. Kathleen was a TV journalist and businesswoman who had created an award-winning education foundation for Fortune 500 education finance company, Sallie Mae. She also managed a large education reform grant portfolio as a senior program officer for the Walton Family Foundation.
From 2005, Don pursued partnerships in integrative medicine, consciousness and education. Nancy introduced and championed organizations that supported the arts, particularly dance and theater. Nancy, as well as her daughter and two of her granddaughters pursued ballet quite seriously. She was also passionate about Virginia history as her mother traces their heritage back to the early settlement days.
The focus has been on leaders who inspire with their vision, their perseverance and their talent. As Don wrote in his memoirs, two years before he died, “In recent years I have had a lot of money, but I never wanted to waste any of it…To my mind this money had a higher purpose and I have many times felt guided to find the people and the organizations.”
Nancy was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2008 and died in 2009. Don passed away from lung disease in 2012. Kathleen is now president of the foundation and Ken is treasurer. They hope to maintain and continue the entrepreneurial spirit and joyful generosity that their parents brought to their work.
Don deLaski Entrepreneur, CEO & Philanthropist
1932 - 2012
Nancy deLaski Supporter of the
1934 - 2009