Authentic, Understated, and Inspiring: A Personal Reflection on the Life of Chuck Feeney

The support of The Atlantic Philanthropies was a catalyst for the Equity Initiative, which was launched in 2016. Yet Le Nhan Phuong, EI’s Executive Director, had a much longer history with Chuck Feeney, the founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, who passed away on October 9 at age 92. Phuong began working with Atlantic as a consultant for its Viet Nam Program in 2000 and subsequently established the Atlantic Representative Office in Ha Noi; from 2003 to 2013, Phong was Atlantic’s Country Director in Viet Nam.

Phuong shares his personal reflection on the life and legacy of Chuck Feeney: 

The news of Chuck’s passing away, while expected, still came as a shock to me. The world has lost a truly magnificent human being. To many, Chuck Feeney was a great philanthropist and humanitarian, championing causes globally to help make the world a better place. His “giving while living” philosophy helped to put the urgency in philanthropic giving and inspired the “Giving Pledge.”

But for me, one of the fortunate few who worked with Chuck, he was much more than that. His authentic, yet understated, expression of kindness and compassion to the vulnerable and less fortunate was truly inspiring, and made those who worked for him feel proud and humble to be a part of his vision. It is because we didn’t just work for Chuck, but with Chuck to realize our dreams within his. Chuck often reminded us that “it is always about the people.”

Thank you, Chuck, for your generosity, your kindness, and your humanity, which are worthy aspirations for all of us to live by.

Le Nhan Phuong
Executive Director, The Equity Initiative