Tocqueville Society, Alpha Chapter
In 1981, Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Jr. had a vision to create meaningful change in the lives of our neediest citizens and neighborhoods. So he planted a seed that would grow exponentially over three decades into one of the most successful international giving societies consisting of some of the world’s most committed, generous benefactors. United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society had its roots right here in Nashville 30 years ago when Dr. Frist and 27 other local leaders recognized that investing in precious lives produces an exceptional, sustainable return on investment.
Dr. Frist penned the name Alexis de Tocqueville Society to celebrate the compassion and generosity among Americans that French historian Alexis de Tocqueville observed during his eighteenth century visits to the United States. Dr. Frist’s vision today spans the world: the Society has raised $7 billion to date, and includes over 430 individual societies of more than 25,000 distinguished names like Bill Gates and George Clooney. In December 2009 we renamed our society the Tocqueville Society, Alpha Chapter in honor of Dr. Frist’s strong vision.
In October 2011, we celebrated “Thirty Years of Tocqueville” at a dinner for our membership. It was an extraordinary evening of tributes to Dr. Frist, including from United Way Worldwide president Brian Gallagher who presented the Alpha Chapter a special “Fleur de Lis” award. Tocqueville member Mike Shmerling was awarded the Tocqueville Award at the dinner.
Value and Impact
Dr. Frist’s gift to the Alexis de Tocqueville Society has been referred to as “perhaps the most significant charitable gift ever made”. The impact from the transformational seed he planted continues to grow and multiply across the world. In the thirty years since the Tocqueville Society was founded, our Nashville members have invested over $100 million in the work United Way does with partners throughout our community. Equally staggering, members of the Tocqueville Society have invested over $7 billion throughout the globe for the work of United Ways since its inception.
United Way Worldwide presented an inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Frist before 1,500 United Way community leaders in May 2012. Appropriately, the award was bestowed here in Nashville.
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