Lang to retire from bank’s charitable arm
David Lang is looking forward to having a little more space in his home office.
After eight years as managing director of the Bank of Bermuda Foundation, he retires in May.
“I am looking forward to it, but Mrs Lang isn't,” he joked.
He first came into contact with the foundation while working in the Office on Philanthropy in the Bank of Bermuda trust department in the late 1980s.
“They were our single biggest customer,” he said.
Back then the foundation was actually three trusts, the Centennial Trust, the Educational Trust and the Charitable Trust. Mr Lang was invited to join the Board after the three trusts were amalgamated and incorporated into the foundation in 2000.
Since then, the foundation has provided funds for hundreds of local charities over the years and also scholarship money.
Mr Lang said until he became involved with the foundation, he really had no idea the extent of the need in the community.
“I don't think most people are aware until they get out there in the trenches and see the need,” he said. “I have lived a privileged life. I grew up with loving parents and always had enough to eat. It has been an eye-opener to see some of the challenges that some of the less fortunate people face in the community.”
He has particularly seen the needs of seniors grow.
“There are huge needs for the elderly in terms of health and housing as they get older,” he said. “We are not meeting that demand very adequately. There are people suffering terribly having to make decisions about whether they buy medications or food because their government pension is of limited extent.
“Also housing for the elderly with the exception of the Bermuda Housing Trust, which is a terrific organisation, is usually done by private enterprise. Some are completely for profit, and others are run on the basis of trying to help as many people as they can. But they tend to be small and are not big enough to meet the demands.”
The foundation helped with the building of the Rockaway development in Southampton to provide housing for seniors.
“The Bermuda Housing Trust built that,” he said. “The Bank of Bermuda Foundation provided $2.5 million of the funding.”
However, he said there was no particular project that stuck out for him.
“I think we are just very proud of the entire thing,” he said. “We're proud of the whole effort to try and support the charitable community. We would love to have helped them all and done more than we did.”
Four years ago the foundation embarked on a strategic plan.
“We came up with a new theory of change that meant that we adjusted our focus and decided to try to become more philanthropic than charitable,” Mr Lang said.
According to the foundation's website this meant shifting from treating the symptoms of social issues, to addressing the root causes such as racism and discrimination.
“Bermuda continues to experience the ripple effects of being an historically overtly racially segregated and fundamentally unfair society,” states the website.
“We recognise that two Bermudas still exist: one where access to opportunity, financial security and general wellbeing is very difficult to achieve, and another Bermuda where, for some, there appear to be few obstacles in their path.
“The ‘social and economic divide' can feel very wide at times, therefore, we believe that moving towards healing and equity of opportunity is vital.”
“That is a big change for the foundation,” Mr Lang said. “For years Bermuda has discriminated against people of colour, and that has hampered equitable access for opportunities for many years. We want to try to adjust the fuel flow.”
The foundation is also making adjustments on a gender level. In its early days, the board was all male.
“Now we have several ladies,” Mr Lang said. “That's a big change.”
Mr Lang officially retires on May 5, his 71st birthday. He plans to spend more time in his garden.
The foundation is now looking for a new general manager, and replacements for directors Phil Butterfield and Debbie Jackson, who have also retired.
• For more information see www.bankofbermudafoundation.bm