James Madison's Montpelier We The People Spring 2017 Montpelier_WTP_Spring2017_FINAL-1-web - Page 25

SPRING 2017 THE SPIRIT OF PHILANTHROPY THE CORNELL PERSPECTIVE An interview with Cornell Foundation trustee Joe Erdman Since 2008, the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation has contributed $4.8 million to The Montpelier Foundation to support its programs, staff, and operations. The Cornell Foundation is a charitable trust created by the will of acclaimed 20th century artist Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) that honors the memory of the artist and his disabled younger brother. The trust supports a variety of nonprofit beneficiaries, with an emphasis on the arts and education. We spoke to Foundation trustee Joe Erdman, pictured above with his wife, Rosemary, about Cornell’s ongoing support of Montpelier. Why is James Madison important? What are your hopes for Montpelier? Madison was fundamental to getting the Constitution drafted and passed. And he was also a political genius capable of organizing the votes and the voices in support of the Constitution. He had a great understanding of how to engineer compromise. And today, if you look at our country, I think the one thing we’re doing less and less of is achieving compromise across political lines. Madison’s participation in the Federalist Papers and his primary role in explaining our young democracy make Madison a unique and, frankly, an often-times forgotten personality among the great American presidents. He was so central and crucial to our modern day Constitution. I think Kat has really moved the organization forward. The important thing is to get Montpelier to the point that it’s a required place to visit as part of your journey to historic Virginia. It’s not just Jefferson and Monticello and the University of Virginia, Montpelier should be the third part of that experience. Because it’s a little bit out of the way, it probably needs a little bit more publicity and money spent on advertising and I think it’s prepared now to take advantage of that. 25