Loving Tacoma for the Long Term

Filed Under: Civic Engagement,Philanthropy,Vibrant Community - Posted @ 11:54am

Sitting around the dining room table at her family’s Tacoma home, Ann Wiborg and a group of fellow local leaders met in the Fall of 1977. They shared a vision of supporting the needs and opportunities of their community for generations to come. 

Four years later, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation (GTCF) officially launched with $10,000 in assets and an eight-member Board of Directors, of which Ann was the only woman.   

Reflecting on her role in helping found GTCF, Ann shared, “Our goal was to create an active movement – with a continuous flow of financial support and information around civic activity.  The more people that you can help get involved, the more things you can do.” 

Having witnessed her parents’ efforts in the development of the Seattle Foundation, Ann saw the value of investing in her community for the long-term, and getting others involved. It’s something she and her husband James had done since they built a home in Tacoma and moved into it on their wedding day in 1948. That was the same home where they raised four children, and held numerous gatherings, including those meetings at the dining room table where GTCF was born. 

Through the years Ann and James dedicated their time and financial resources to supporting many local organizations, serving on numerous Boards of local nonprofits and universities, founding local businesses, and even erecting a 40-foot Christmas tree at the end of their street each year for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. 

In 1997, Ann and James made another long-term investment in the community. They established legacy gifts to local nonprofits, including GTCF. In the original letter they submitted to notify GTCF of their legacy gift, Ann and James wrote, “May the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation continue for many years in the fine work it does in support of our community by the grants which it distributes” 

“Gammie was the center of our family, and bringing family together was the center of her spirit and action…I see the same spirit in the Foundation’s community convening role”

Since Ann and other local leaders established GTCF, it has grown to more than $150 million in assets. Since 1981, GTCF has made more than $150 million in philanthropic investments to Pierce County communities. Generations of leaders and organizations have grown and shaped the region, working with GTCF as a connector and catalyst for positive transformation.  

Ann Wiborg pictured in 1982 with GTCF’s Board of Directors

Ann’s grandson Brian Green, who currently serves as a member of GTCF’s Board of Directors sees his grandmother’s passion for bringing family and community together reflected in GTCFs role in the community today.  “Gammie was the center of our family, and bringing family together was the center of her spirit and action. She was too strong of a matriarch to stop with family, filling the same role with her community. I see the same spirit in the Foundation’s community convening role.”  

Ann Wiborg passed away in November of 2021. James passed away in 2015.  In memory of their life-long commitment to community, and their respective passions for arts and sciences, the Wiborg children: Katherine, Mimi, Caroline & John established memorial funds in each of their parent’s names.  The James H. Wiborg Memorial Fund supports high school graduates from Pierce County studying in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field, as selected by Palmer Scholars.  The Ann R. Wiborg Memorial Fund helps sustain a vibrant arts culture and enrich the lives of women and girls in Pierce County.  

Ann and James’s love and dedication to their community continues to advance the vision they shared at their dining room table 45 years ago. Their children and grandchildren carry on their parents’ commitment to local philanthropy. And, their legacy gift to GTCF’s long-term, sustained capacity will to support aligned funding and philanthropic investments to benefit Pierce County communities for generations to come.