Philanthropy Q&A

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) members are giving of their time and money to many different organizations.  These generous people are inspiring others to give back.  MPI is full of passionate people wanting to get involved.  I am always interested in ways I can give back so I interviewed the owner of our company Louise Silberman who is involved in so many different organizations to help get myself and hopefully others started.




Philanthropy means "love of mankind". Thus, philanthropy is giving money for a purpose or cause benefiting people who you don't personally know.  This is usually manifested by money, property or volunteer work.

By Sasha Sook


SS: How did you get involved in charitable giving and attending charity events?  Did someone influence you to get started?

LAS:  I was taught at an early age that it is our responsibility to give back.  And that should not be just money but time and commitment.

SS: How do you choose which charities to get involved with?

LAS:  I choose charities that I have a personal connection; either thru family, friends, school affiliation, community, or a passion.

SS: How do you make sure that the time and money you give goes to a good cause and not administrative costs?

LAS: I try to give directly to research or a specific objective rather than just a cause as the general associations tend to have a lot more administrative costs associated with them.

SS: How long do you usually stay with an organization or issue?

LAS: if I am passionate about a cause I will continue to give to it in perpetuity.  However, that would only be after serving on the board and truly understating the mission of that cause. Over time sometimes that changes and so does my commitment.  I usually will stay on a board for at least two terms and will only serve on a maximum of two boards at a time.  Also, the amount of my commitment continually evolves as new needs arise or my priorities change. 

SS: What cause are you most passionate about?

LAS:  That's hard to say.  My family and friends have personally been affected by a few diseases and my passion to eradicate those diseases and the suffering that ensues is very high, but I also have been a long time supporter of full ride scholarships for CPS students.  Why should your socioeconomic situation dictate if you are given educational advancement opportunities?

SS: What is the biggest impact you feel like you have made?

LAS:  You never really know, but a memory of teaching one of the kitchen staff's son to swim during my off hours as a camp counselor will always stay with me.  Her other son had drowned the summer before and she was so frightened of the water. She cried and squeezed me so tight I could hardly breathe.  I know I not only changed their lives but all the lives of all the other kids connected to them as Randall then taught his cousins and friends to swim over the next few summers.  I did not realize it at the time, but forever changed the trajectory of their lives.

SS: What famous humanitarian inspires you?

LAS:  The Dalai Lama.  Such simple teachings but if you follow them, very impactful.

SS: How does your experience as a successful entrepreneur inform your work as a philanthropist?

LAS:  I try and encourage all my employees to give back in their own way.  One of our core values is to positively impact our community and planet.

SS: As a hospitality professional, my extra time is somewhat limited.  How do you make time for it all?

LAS:  To me giving back is a priority, it is not something I fit in to my life, it's how I live it.

SS: What advice would you give for someone to give back with a limited amount of discretionary income?

LAS:  Money is only one fraction of being a good global/committed citizen.  Look around; be aware of your surroundings from natural resources to being part of the "village" of your community. You can always leave your mark, it's not about money.


Originally published for MPI Chicago