Honoring a True Person for Others: Anne Van Ness Farrell

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 10:46 PM PST

Longtime SU supporter, advocate Anne Farrell is this year's Ignatius Medal recipient

Anne Van Ness Farrell is perhaps best known as the former president and CEO of The Seattle Foundation, who grew the once small, regional body into one of the nation's top community foundations. A civic leader of grace and humility, Farrell has achieved much in her storied life and career.

The meaning behind the medal resonates strongly with Farrell. Choosing her words with care, she says "I'm awed by the importance of it and what it represents-a 'just and humane world.' That's what I want for this world as well." 

Farrell's relationship with Seattle University began in the mid-1980s when the university came to the Seattle Foundation to request a grant for street signage. The request posed a conundrum for the foundation, which had a strict policy against funding religious institutions. Ultimately, the foundation was swayed by the value Seattle University brought to its surrounding neighborhood. Signage created a welcoming invitation to a campus that was, in Farrell's recollection, a "mysterious presence" to those outside its borders. 

In 1987, Farrell accepted an invitation from President William Sullivan, S.J. to join the Board of Regents and within a few years she became a trustee. Now a lifetime trustee emerita, she co-chaired Seattle University's capital campaign from 2003 to 2009 and oversaw the successful $37 million drive for the Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons. 

A shared mission and values drove Farrell's involvement with the university. She was drawn to the university's commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, its scholarships for first-generation college students, its belief in the whole student, its integrity and its transformative work in the community. 

You can learn more about Anne Van Ness Farrell online here.