ML - Boston Common

2013 - Issue 4 - Fall

Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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Page 69 of 155

SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY "It's not how much money you give; it's about getting engaged and having empathy."—JOHN HAILER 68 ABOVE: John Hailer volunteers as often as his schedule permits. LEFT: His painting, along with ones created by children affiliated with The Home, was auctioned off to raise money for the organization. have enough desks or books; the teachers were lackluster, and most students were poor. He fell behind in every subject. Luckily for Hailer, the area redistricted and he was assigned to another location. His new school in the suburbs, only an hour away from the previous one, was in a brand-new building. The library was stocked. "I got to leave [the other school], but all of those other kids were still there," he says. "When people talk about hard work, I think that's a crock. Life is full of hard-working people, and some get luckier than others. Kids that are falling behind now—they're never going to catch up." Tall and lanky, Hailer walks with a graceful, athletic gait. (He attended Beloit College on a basketball scholarship.) He has salt-and-pepper hair with silvery sideburns. He is an easy conversationalist and has a sentimental sensibility. "Kodak commercials make me cry," he says. As a university student, he volunteered for Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago. He also worked on Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign against Ronald Reagan. His greatest influence, though, was his father. One evening, when he was home from school on a break, he and his dad got into a heated argument about politics. "Here I was lecturing him on liberalism. My father looked at me, and said, 'You've learned a lot in college. But always realize you may not know everything, no matter how old you get.' He gave me a kiss on the forehead," he recalls. "And he passed away that night." Hailer says his father taught him: "It's not how much money you give— even though that's really important; it's about getting engaged and having empathy, and thinking about how to improve people's lives." It is this sentiment that drives Hailer's vision of The Home today. He volunteers there as often as his schedule permits: He plays basketball with the kids, paints murals with them, or reads them books. One of his proudest accomplishments is the creation of Waltham House, which is designed for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Children from the teenagers. LGBT teens are five times more likely to early days of The Home, which is commit suicide than their heterosexual counterone of the oldest parts, according to research. Many more attempt children's charities in the US. continued on page 68 PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE EDSON (PLAYGROUND); COURTESY OF JOHN HAILER (PAINTING); COURTESY OF THE HOME FOR LITTLE WANDERERS (CHILDREN) continued from page 66 As president and CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management (NGAM) for North America and Asia, a Paris- and Boston-based fund management firm that runs about $785 billion, Hailer is one of the most successful money managers in the world. Even in difficult markets, NGAM's assets are up more than 53 percent since 2007. Last year Natixis donated $1.8 million to a number of Boston-area charities, including The Home. Employees gave an additional $330,000 to charity and donated 2,700 hours of their time. Hailer is determined to encourage more corporate chiefs to follow his lead. "Corporate America needs to understand that the more we help places like The Home, the less you have to spend on the back end," he says. "Our investments today are going to be a heck of a lot less than what we would have to pay in taxes and social services or medical payments later on. Not only does it make you feel good, but you can prove economically it's very good for the community." Hailer pleads his case as a businessman, but his commitment to children's causes is personal. While his upbringing was solidly middle class, his father's political career exposed him to the hardships of others at an impressionable age. Born in Roslindale, Hailer was the eighth child (of 10) to Mary Gilson and Frederick Hailer, a former Boston City councillor. Throughout the '60s and '70s, his father worked for the federal government in several different administrations—both Democratic and Republican, which required the Hailer family to move up and down the East Coast between Boston and Virginia several times. During his childhood, Hailer went to 10 different schools. He remembers one school, in Newport News, Virginia, that didn't BOSTONCOMMON-MAGAZINE.COM 066-071-BC_SP_SpOfGen_Fall13.indd 68 8/5/13 5:18 PM

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