Evan J. Segal grew up in Pittsburgh, attended Taylor Allderdice High School, and went on to get his B.S. and M.B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University. He’s currently president of Segal Ventures L.P., working as an angel/early seed investor. On the philanthropic front, he’s founder of Venture for America (VFA) Pittsburgh, one of several organizations with a more national or even international presence, that Segal has helped bring to his native city. I recently connected with Segal to find out more about his work with VFA and through the Segal Family Foundation, whose goals is to support innovative approaches to human kindness and social justice.
Segal’s first lessons in philanthropy came from his late father, Jerome J. Segal, who steered Dormont Manufacturing Company. He was an ardent supporter of Israel and other Jewish causes, and also had a passion for art. “Probably the biggest thing was growing up in Pittsburgh and seeing from my father his philanthropic efforts in terms of giving back in terms of his time and his money. This was really part of it.”
The Segal Family Foundation is driven by the Jewish charitable tradition of Tikkun Olam. Segal eventually took over Dormont and helped grow it into a global manufacturing business. When the company sold in 2006, Segal recalls being at a crossroads: “The question was, what do you want to do now? Try to build other companies, or give back?” On the civic front, Segal went on to work on the national finance committee for the Obama campaign, and later, as CFO at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the Obama administration.
More Than Writing Checks
On the philanthropic front, meanwhile, Evan Segal and his wife Tracy launched their family foundation in 2006, focusing on social justice and human kindness. Segal explains that a hands-on approach is critical for him and Executive Director Marla Werner.