Politics & Policy

Whitney Ball Knew the Landscape of the Conservative Movement Unlike Any Other

Whitney Ball, president of Donors Trust and spirited soldier in the conservative movement, passed away Sunday at her home in Alexandria, Va., at the age of 52. The cause was complications of breast cancer, a disease she fought valiantly for the past 14 years. Her mother was with her when she died.

Whitney was the founder and president of Donors Trust, an organization she created in 1999 as a kind of community foundation for conservative donors. Over the years Whitney, with the assistance of the capable staff that she assembled, built Donors Trust into a formidable force that now distributes approximately $90 million per year to conservative causes, the largest annual pay out of any conservative organization. Over the past 16 years, Donors Trust has donated nearly $750 million to conservative and free-market organizations. As head of an organization that both raises and distributes funds, Whitney cultivated relationships with influential conservative donors and the leaders of conservative think tanks, publications, and advocacy groups. No one knew the landscape of the conservative movement better than Whitney Ball.

Whitney was born in 1962 in Morgantown, West Virginia, where she grew up and attended the public schools. She graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1984, and shortly thereafter launched a career in the conservative movement. Before founding Donors Trust, Whitney served as director of development at the Cato Institute and executive director of the Philanthropy Roundtable. She was active for years as a board member of the State Policy Network.

Whitney was a visionary leader, a dedicated and reliable colleague, and a cherished friend to many.

In 2001, Whitney was diagnosed with breast cancer, and fought the disease over the years with the aid of medical science and her own unconquerable spirit. There were times in the past when she and her friends believed that the cancer was gone. Sadly, it returned a few years ago. She continued to work and lead Donors Trust while undergoing various therapies, some of them experimental, some bringing devastating side effects. Earlier this summer, as her condition grew worse, she went into the hospital for further treatment. On July 28 she returned home under the care of her parents and hospice nurses. In her last days she spoke to close friends about the future of Donors Trust and her hopes to get back to work some day soon. Though her body eventually gave out, her spirit did not.

Whitney was a visionary leader, a dedicated and reliable colleague, and a cherished friend to many. For those who knew and worked with her, Whitney’s death is a heartbreaking loss.

She is survived by her brother, John Ball, and her parents, Anita and J. P. Ball, all currently residing in Park City, Utah.

Arrangements will be announced shortly for a memorial service to take place in Washington, D.C.


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