The Panta Rhea Foundation was established in 2001 as a private foundation devoted to supporting organizations committed to building a more just and sustainable world. The Foundation also advises individual donors and other charitable entities on grantmaking strategies and specific grants.
We believe that lasting, authentic change comes from the grassroots: from the organized efforts of people and organizations to enliven the social imagination, to envision a better future and to experiment with new ideas. We support changemakers to ask questions and to implement strategies and initiatives to build awareness, power, activism and civic engagement.
We believe the future we are working to build must be articulated, that ideas and words have power and that narratives and stories matter. And we support artists, journalists, teachers, students, activists, organizers and visionaries who see, create and make meaning of our world and our interdependent futures.
In today’s world, these efforts necessarily entail building strong local and national organizations that can serve as a counterweight to corporate power. They entail supporting independent sources of news and strong investigative reporting, as well as new approaches to problem-solving and collaboration. They require being mindful that social movements must inspire, identify and mentor leaders and nourish new forms of cultural and artistic expression. They require taking risks and betting on David despite Goliath’s awesome strengths.
A question we often get is, What does Panta Rhea mean? Underlying that question is, of course, why is that the name of the foundation? Panta Rhea or Rhei is attributed to Heraclitus and roughly translates as, “You never step into the same river twice” or “All things change, all things flow”—suggesting both inherent constancy and change as a fundamental of life itself. Not surprisingly then, Hans Schoepflin renamed his private foundation in 2001 the Panta Rhea Foundation, inspired by significant financial success, a desire to give back and a series of major life changes, including the sudden death of his son.
In that sense, Panta Rhea is a deeply personal name that honors the eternally interconnected possibility and promise of individual, familial and collective transformation. It is in this spirit, as father and daughter/founder and chair, respectively, that we share a new phase of multigenerational and inclusive stewardship in Panta Rhea’s legacy. A legacy dedicated to realizing transformative philanthropy and reciprocal collaboration with our local, regional, and global partners for a more just and sustainable world.
Developing Panta Rhea signaled an expanded commitment by Hans Schoepflin to his philanthropic activities by drawing on his entrepreneurial experience. And so, in 2001, together with his oldest daughter, Patricia Wefald, he formally opened an office in the San Francisco Bay area, hired an executive director and embarked on strategic grantmaking into environmental and social justice issues in California.
Hans Schoepflin first made his mark as a risk-taking and innovative funder by supporting an ultimately successful campaign that fought the privatization of an aquifer in the Mojave Desert. Since then, Panta Rhea’s grantmaking has supported individual and organizational changemakers in California, nationally and internationally through various initiatives and strategies. This has included water governance, environmental health, youth leadership development, corporate accountability, project-based and arts-integrated education, creative arts and social change, investigative journalism and public media reporting, food justice, capacity building, and much more.
In 2015, we began the transition from a founder-driven organization to an institutional, board-stewarded one. This included expanding the board, which will eventually become a non-family majority board. In addition, Lisl Schoepflin, Hans’ youngest daughter, stepped in as board chair, while Hans remains involved as an active donor, director, thought partner, and mentor.
We aim to continue the founder’s legacy while stewarding a philanthropic vision and strategy through consensus-based decision-making with a diverse, inclusive and multi-generational family/non-family member board and staff. We remain committed to staying a small organization, dependent and successful thanks to the dedication, passion and leadership of our stellar staff and the deep partnership and collaboration within and between the Panta Rhea team and the broader community.
With gratitude and humility for the opportunity to share in the essential work of transformative change, we strive to boldly and creatively meet today’s diverse challenges with grounded, long-view initiatives that foster and engage the wisdom, dignity, and beauty of the planet, its peoples and cultures. Onwards!
Hans Schoepflin, founder, and Lisl Schoepflin, Chair
August 6, 2017
Diana is an educator and writer. Her work at Panta Rhea builds on more than two decades of experience in social justice philanthropy, human rights advocacy and education. Diana oversees the Deeper Learning & Creativity and the Social Imagination & Engagement grantmaking portfolios at Panta Rhea. Prior to her work in philanthropy, Diana was a dedicated classroom teacher and later developed a global education curriculum as the Director of Secondary Education for the Foreign Policy Association and also worked as co–director of Media for International Development, a media & arts organization devoted to indigenous and human rights. She holds a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic and an MA in Educational Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is an award-winning children’s book author and a veteran beekeeper.
Zoë has more than 20 years of experience working on economic and environmental justice issues. She has worked on development and communications for the Breast Cancer Fund and Good Jobs First, and also previously served as the Grants Manager for the Rosenberg Foundation in San Francisco. While at Rosenberg Foundation she served on the Northern California Grantmakers Emergency Fund Committee. She is currently a member of PEAK Grantmaking, a network for best practices in grants management. Zoë has completed graduate coursework in non-profit management. She plays the bass guitar and is currently learning to sew.
Ann is an organization development consultant and leadership coach with over 20 years of experience working with social change leaders, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy. Her approach is rooted in the belief that learning and transformation are vital to an organization’s resiliency and effectiveness. As the director of the Resilience & Renewal portfolio at Panta Rhea, Ann stewards a learning process with foundation staff and grantees as they engage in leading and transforming their organizations and themselves as leaders. Earlier in her career, Ann served as Executive Director of the Common Counsel Foundation. Ann earned a doctorate in organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, with a focus on learning and governance, a BA in Political Economy from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and is a certified Co-Active Coach through the Coaches Training Institute.
Anna is a national bestselling author and an internationally recognized expert on food systems. She is the author or co-author of three books on food, farming and sustainability and the contributing author to a dozen more. She is the co-founder of three national organizations, including the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund. In addition to her work overseeing the Panta Rhea Foundation’s Food & Democracy grantmaking portfolio, she leads Real Food Media, a collaborative initiative to spark conversation about our food system, catalyze creative storytelling and connect communities for food system transformation. Anna is a frequent public speaker at universities and conferences nationwide. She has a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and graduated with honors from Brown University. Anna is an active board member of Rainforest Action Network and Mesa Refuge, a writer’s retreat in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Hans is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He studied in France and in the United States and has both successful business and investment careers. Today he is the founder and President of Schoepflin Investment Company. In 2001, he founded the Panta Rhea Foundation in the United States and the Schöpflin Stiftung in Germany. Both foundations support people and organizations, that envision a better future for the generations to come, experiment with new ideas and are committed to building a more just and sustainable world. Both act in accordance with the philosophy of Heraclitus “All things flow. All things change.” Through all of the foundations’ respective wide-ranging initiatives, there is a consistent philosophy to develop personal awareness and empower individuals and organizations to tackle major social challenges. Hans is presently engaged in a new initiative, titled Spore: a cultural platform aimed at re-defining the relationships between contemporary daily life, art and nature. Spore seeks to activate new synergies between these three respective domains while remaining anchored to a specific neighborhood in Berlin.
Lisl is a historian, writer and educator. She joined the Panta Rhea Foundation board in 2008. Her philanthropic experience includes managing PRF’s discretionary family giving through the Sunflower Fund (2005-2008); founding the Qinti Fund with one of her sisters (2017-present); and participating in donor and movement organizing networks, including Solidaire. She brings to Panta Rhea passion and experience with performance arts; academic and creative writing; education; indigenous and colonial history and social memory of the Americas, particularly the Andean region; and social and environmental justice efforts. She has lived and worked in places such as Brazil, Denmark, India, Peru, and, of course, the United States. She received in 2013 and 2014 the Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) fellowship to study Quechua in Cusco, Peru and in 2017 the Fulbright-Hays fellowship to conduct archival research in Peru for nine months. She completed her BA in Anthropology and Theater Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, MA in Latin American History at the University of California, Los Angeles, and is currently a PhD Candidate in Latin American History at UCLA.
One of Hans Schoepflin’s daughters, Patricia played an active role in co-developing the Panta Rhea Foundation. Patricia joined as a board member in 2011. Her main philanthropic interest is in the Food & Democracy Program. She is a Nurse Practitioner in the Boston area.
Adelaide has been a psychotherapist and life coach for over thirty years. Her interest in sustainable food grew out of her 40-year involvement with the Chez Panisse restaurant. She has worked in community mental health, criminal justice and secondary education. In addition, she’s had 50 years experience in the arts (photography, film, theater, creative writing). She is currently helping individuals with personal sustainability, finishing a novel, and working with several non-profits.
Nico works as a pediatric neurologist and developmental neuroscientist at Washington University in St. Louis. Born and raised in southwest Germany, he obtained a BA in Biochemistry from Columbia University in 2000 and MD and PhD from Washington University in 2008. Nico loves data and experimentation as the surest path towards understanding and improving all things.
Holly is the founder of BonaVita Enterprises, has worked in social enterprise as an entrepreneur, investor and community builder for two decades. Her work has spanned the business sector via Uprise Bakery and Terra Bella Farms in Columbia, Missouri; the nonprofit sector via Ragtag Cinema and the True/False Film Festival also in Columbia; social entrepreneurship via Ashoka: Innovators for the Public; Youth Impact Hub Oakland; and, YES! Holly grew up in central Missouri and lives in Berkeley, California with her two imaginative, energetic and often-costumed boys.