Image of a woman with grey hair wearing a grey and white striped cardigan
May 2023

Unique and Exceptional

Karen Hammond wants you to make RISD part of your legacy.

When Karen Hammond lived in Providence, she often found herself walking down College Hill.

“I would use the RISD Museum as my walkway,” she remembers. “It was a really great way to feel a part of the RISD community, but also to put some pep in my step and experience a period of visual joy.”

It was visits to the museum, the quick solo ones as well as the longer, more educational trips with her children, that first brought Hammond, now Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, to RISD. Her passion for the museum led to positions of the Museum Board of Governors and the institution’s Board of Trustees. Along the way, Hammond came to deeply appreciate RISD’s approach to education.

She so thoroughly believes in RISD’s ability to create a culture of curiosity, creativity and joy for its students and members of the Providence community that, in addition to making regular donations, she recently named RISD in her estate plans.

When asked why she made this commitment, Hammond reflects on her overall interest in educational causes. But there is something different about RISD. The work that students do is important, she says —art and design matter. But what is really special is the approach to that work. In students, she sees grit, determination and integrally, an embrace of failure.

“So many students fear failure. But learning, trying, failing and trying again is an important part of growing up,” she explains. “You learn through experience, and RISD encourages its students to do that in a thoughtful way. The education that students receive, the work that they do —it’s unique and exceptional.”

In order to facilitate her giving to RISD, Hammond and her husband created a donor-advised fund, which she recommends to anyone looking to streamline their philanthropy. Though she has a special place in her heart for scholarships, she typically makes unrestricted gifts, saying, “I implicitly trust RISD to make the best decisions about where the funds are most needed.”

“You learn through experience, and RISD encourages its students to do that in a thoughtful way. The education that students receive, the work that they do—it’s unique and exceptional.”
Karen Hammond

Hammond has named RISD a beneficiary of her donor-advised fund, something that she considers a no-brainer. “I can say where I want my money to go, or I can leave it to somebody else to decide for me,” she says. “I can’t figure out why I would let somebody else decide!”

She has a message for her fellow RISD supporters: “Planned giving is so easy. I encourage anyone who loves RISD to consider it. A donor-advised fund is just one way to make a planned gift, and what’s best for me might not be best for others. But you can meet with the planned giving team and see what options are available. If RISD is important to you, why not make it part of your legacy?”

And Hammond has just one more recommendation. If you’re walking down College Hill and need to get from Benefit to Main Street, add thirty minutes to your trip and stop in the RISD Museum. You might reacquaint yourself with an old favorite or discover something entirely new.

Image of RISD Museum Chace Center at Twilight

To learn more about how you can support RISD through your estate plans, including via donor-advised funds, contact Rebecca Dupras, senior planned giving officer, at or 401 427-3151.