Considered an icon in the philanthropy world, Susan Packard Orr frequently is the person nonprofits look to for inspiration and advice.  She's probably best known, however, for steering her family's nonprofit organization, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation, for the past 22 years. She stepped into the role of chairwoman — overseeing the mission and strategic direction of the Foundation — in 1996 after the death of her father, David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Company.

In June 1996 Orr took the top seat of the then nine-member board responsible for setting the mission and strategic direction of the Foundation and for overseeing its finances, operations and policies. Her three siblings — David Packard, Julie Packard and Nancy Packard Burnett — remained in their roles as board trustees. With Orr as chair, a new era in the life of the foundation began.

Within two years, as the value of HP shares skyrocketed, the Foundation went from a $2.1-billion family-style charity awarding about $100 million in grants annually to a global leader endowed with more than $9.1 billion, reportedly making it the third wealthiest foundation in the world.

Orr was tasked with keeping the nonprofit charity on course and figuring out how to give away hundreds of millions of dollars — all without losing sight of her parents' vision. Orr was chosen as board chair because her father believed she could best keep her siblings focused together. She handled the role just as he had anticipated.

When Orr became chair, "there was a profound shift," Carol Larson, Foundation president and CEO, told the Weekly. "Susan worked hard to honor her parents' legacy while fully embracing the trust and freedom they gave to the board to change over time."

Read the full article about family foundations by Linda Taaffe at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.