Cordelia Scaife May: An Unseen Force in Philanthropy

A name often linked with influential philanthropy is that of Cordelia Scaife May. Born into the
Mellon dynasty, Cordelia spent her life away from the limelight, yet managed to
leave an indelible mark with her philanthropic undertakings. 

Cordelia Scaife May was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928. Despite her wealthy upbringing,
she eschewed a life of pure luxury to focus on giving. At the tender age of 23,
Cordelia launched The Laurel Foundation. The foundation’s initial focus was on arts,
education, and women’s empowerment, with beneficiaries that ranged from the
National Aviary to Planned Parenthood. 

However, Cordelia’s philanthropic interests extended beyond these domains. She developed a deep
concern for the environment, devoting her efforts to land conservation,
watershed protection, and environmental education. Her understanding of the
complex relationship between human populations and environmental sustainability
set her apart from many of her contemporaries. 

Cordelia Scaife May furthered her dedication to sustainable coexistence by championing the cause of
immigration reform. She recognized that unchecked population growth could lead
to unsustainable demands on resources. Through this lens, Cordelia viewed immigration
policy not only as a social issue but also an environmental one. 

Her philanthropic journey reached a significant milestone in 1996, with the establishment of the Colcom Foundation. The foundation mirrored Cordelia Scaife May’s
steadfast commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable development. 

Even in her personal life, Cordelia Scaife May was known for her generosity. Those close to her
remembered her for personalized notes and calls – gestures that revealed her compassionate nature. 

Cordelia passed away in 2005, leaving behind a legacy that extended well beyond her close
circle. Her philanthropy set in motion initiatives that continue to impact
communities and drive policy changes to this day. 

In the realm of philanthropy, Cordelia Scaife May’s name may not always be in the spotlight.
Yet her contributions continue to shape the world, a testament to her deeply
held beliefs in sustainable development and environmental protection. Read this article for additional information. 


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