Joan Davidson, 86, New York City and Hudson, NY
Occupation: Grandmother; founder of Furthermore.org; past president of JM Kaplan Fund; former New York State commissioner of parks, recreation, and historic preservation, New York City
Purpose: “Do something that’s worth doing in the world at large and, just as much, to have fun with it. If it isn’t fun, what’s the point?”
“I’m moved by instinct as things stumble in my path,” Joan says. “As you get older, you know what makes you happy from your own experience.” And hers is impressive. As president of the family-run Kaplan Fund, she instigated imaginative and necessary projects in New York City, such as green markets, Westbeth Artists Housing, and NY Cares Coat Drive. The list goes on. As New York State commissioner of Parks, she relished being “in the middle of it all,” to use her “power for good.”
These days, she’s a grandmother to twelve, managing an ample home on the Hudson River, where her grandkids can be together. “Without a place, I’m not sure families could stay together and have the chance to learn from each other,” she says.
But Joan stays active outside her home, too: “Life doesn’t get any less adventurous just because you’re ancient!” she quips. As founder of Furthermore, a grant program she created in 1995 for illustrated nonfiction book publishing, she has supported 1,000 book projects to the tune of $5 million. And she just announced the first winner of Furthermore’s Alice Award for overall excellence: Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties by Teresa Carbone.