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Ford Hall Forum Inc.

 Suffolk University, 41 Temple Street
 Boston, MA 02114
[P] (617) 557-2007
[F] --
[email protected]
-- --
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-1335550

LAST UPDATED: 01/30/2015
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

The Ford Hall Forum is the nation's oldest continuously-operating free public lecture series. Its mission is to foster an informed and effective citizenry and to promote freedom of speech through the public presentation of lectures, debates and discussions. Forum events illuminate the key issues facing our society by bringing to a public podium knowledgeable and through-provoking speakers, including some of the most controversial opinion leaders of our times.

Mission Statement

The Ford Hall Forum is the nation's oldest continuously-operating free public lecture series. Its mission is to foster an informed and effective citizenry and to promote freedom of speech through the public presentation of lectures, debates and discussions. Forum events illuminate the key issues facing our society by bringing to a public podium knowledgeable and through-provoking speakers, including some of the most controversial opinion leaders of our times.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year July 01, 2012 to June 30, 2013
Projected Income $106,600.00
Projected Expense $106,075.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Ford Hall Forum Public Lecture Series

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2011 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2010 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2009 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The Ford Hall Forum is the nation's oldest continuously-operating free public lecture series. Its mission is to foster an informed and effective citizenry and to promote freedom of speech through the public presentation of lectures, debates and discussions. Forum events illuminate the key issues facing our society by bringing to a public podium knowledgeable and through-provoking speakers, including some of the most controversial opinion leaders of our times.

Background Statement

The Forum began in 1908 as a series of Sunday evening public meetings held at Ford Hall on Beacon Hill by George W. Coleman, a prominent Boston businessman. Coleman’s unique format, which provided equal time to speakers’ remarks and questions from the audience, gave any interested citizen the opportunity to debate issues with some of the most influential figures of the day. According to Coleman’s vision, the lecture series would enable the “full, free, and open discussion of all vital questions affecting human welfare.”


Since Coleman’s time, the Forum has gone on to host discussions with the some of the most intriguing figures in our nation’s modern history, including Maya Angelou, Louis Brandeis, W.E.B. DuBois, Robert Frost, Al Gore, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry Kissinger, Ayn Rand, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Malcolm X, to name just a few. While the original Ford Hall building no longer exists, its spirit lives on in the Forum’s public conversations that have continued throughout the Greater Boston area with the generous support of foundations, corporations, academic institutions, and individuals.


As we embark upon our second century of serving Greater Boston and beyond, we hope you will join us in this public conversation that has been informing, provoking, inspiring, engaging, and illuminating for one hundred years and counting.

Impact Statement

The past year has been a very successful one for the Ford Hall Forum.  We are now in the fourth year of a partnership with Suffolk University that has given us with the opportunity to offer a broad range of programs in the heart of Boston. Over the course of the year, hundreds of local citizens have come to hear our speakers in person and  availed themselves of the opportunity at each program to enter into a conversation with the men and women who are shaping our world. In addition, we have increased the distribution of our programs electronically through our work with iTunes, and WGBH Forum Online reaching a potential audience in the thousands. The Forum also regularly posts on Facebook and Twitter to keep both live and electronic audiences connected to our programming.


Among the thought-provoking topics and speakers presented in the past twelve months:
  •  Beantown Centennials
  •  Dysfunctional Democracy, with Congressman Barney Frank
  •  Brand-Name Genes
  •  The State of Human Rights
  •  Reflections on the First Amendment with James Downey and Bill Murray
  •  Gray Matters:  Brain Injury in Sports
  •  Black Economy, White Privilege
  •  Business Ethics and Other Oxymorons with Nitin Nohria and Thomas J. Peters


The Forum continues our work to reach out to new audiences.  Goals for the coming year include increasing our name recognition in areas of Boston, Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New England where we are not currently well-known and among young people who may be new to the area. We plan to accomplish this through a variety of media and communications methods.  In addition, we continue to work to increase our presence on the web to reach audiences too distant to attend Ford Hall in person. Finally, the Forum is seeking to expand our membership base, individuals who not only provide financial support, but who also form the core group from whom we draw our Board and Advisory Committee members and who make up the heart of our audiences.

Needs Statement

The Ford Hall Forum’s most pressing need continues to be for resources that would allow us increase the quantity and depth of our programming.  These resources are not simply financial but, more importantly, added staff time for research, outreach and logistics that would translate to a seasonal slate of programs with even greater depth and currency than we now offer.


Although the Forum enjoys the excellent work of volunteers at our events, we have yet to find individuals both capable and willing to help us transcribe and appropriately archive the recordings of older forums. As we often have requests from scholars and historians for records of long ago programs, transcription of works like Robert Frost reading from and discussing his poem on the discovery of America, or Malcolm X examining the role of race in our nation, or Ayn Rand detailing her philosophical approach to freedom and government would be of great value, not only to our organization but to many others.


Although staff and volunteers are key, our audience truly represents the heart of the Ford Hall Forum. In our quest to reach a broad range of constituencies, we avail ourselves of many sources of free advertising, in addition to paying for the production and distribution of brochures, a website, and using new media to deliver our message. If the resources were made available to expand our paid outreach we expect it would result in greater participation in our forums and in increased public support for our mission of civic dialogue.


CEO Statement

As the oldest continuously-running free public lecture series in America, the Ford Hall Forum is steeped in a rich history of constantly evolving perspectives. George W. Coleman, a prominent businessman, founded the Forum as a series of Sunday evening public meetings. Coleman wanted the “full, free, and open discussion of all vital questions affecting human welfare.” After the origional Ford Hall near the State House was torn down, events were presented in a many venues throughout the city until coming full-circle to establish residence back on Beacon Hill at Suffolk University several years ago.


When Coleman dreamed up the Ford Hall Forum, the public had no internet, no televisions, and no broadcast radio. Since then, the way we receive information about the world has changed radically but the need for a free, public space for in-person communication and discussion remains. The Ford Hall Forum has survived economic booms and stock market crashes, revolutionary cultural shifts, the invention of the cheeseburger, 19 American presidents, 12 men on the moon, six Red Sox World Series wins, four new states, two appearances of Halley’s Comet, and the splitting of one atom. And still,always, people from all walks of life attend the Forum for that person-to-person connection as they share information and opinions on these incredible happenings.


The Ford Hall Forum is steadfastly committed to the First Amendment right to freedom of expression, not only for our speakers but for our audience as well. In our quest to facilitate this treasured freedom, we espouse the following four elements which, taken together, make our organization unique.

o  We cover a wide variety of topics.

o  We are non-partisan and objective.

o  Audience members can engage directly with speakers, and without preparation.

o  We are free and open to the public.

You may find other lecture series offering one or two of these, but you would be hard-pressed to find one that offers all four outside of the Ford Hall Forum.


Board Chair Statement

There’s something transformative that happens when people of good will get together to explore an issue.

 In an age where information exchanges tend to be quick and often accomplished by fingertips, many of us continue to seek out opportunities for real, honest to goodness, face to face conversations.

This is where the Ford Hall Forum excels. Our programs shed light on vital issues facing society, offering participants (speakers and audience alike) the opportunity to think together in informed new ways.

 The key to our shared success is the willingness of Forum participants to respect opinions presented and, in return, to offer insights gained from our own experiences. Rather than shying away from controversy, the Forum actively seeks out challenging topics and a rich diversity of views. In this way, we foster genuine learning and help open the doors to new solutions.

 All of this is accomplished on a bare-bones, no-frills budget where every dollar is spent in the service of freedom of speech. While blessed with an extraordinarily talented staff, a dedicated Board, and the generous support of Suffolk University, gifts are absolutely critical to our continuing success.

 The Ford Hall Forum¹s contribution to the free and open exchange of ideas is as crucial today as when we began over 100 years ago.

 To be part of such a tradition is deeply rewarding. We invite you to join us.

Geographic Area Served

Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods

Organization Categories

  1. Public & Societal Benefit - Citizen Participation
  2. Education -
  3. Arts,Culture & Humanities -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Ford Hall Forum Public Lecture Series

The Ford Hall Forum presents free discussions with experts on the issues of the day to the general public. We have two seasons of programs: the spring, which runs from mid-September through early November, and the fall, spanning mid-March to late May. The Forum typically presents six to eight programs each season and most are held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday nights, although there is typically one breakfast forum produced every season.

Each program has one speaker or a panel. The program begins with the Executive Director welcoming the audience and introducing the moderator. The moderator then introduces the speakers and questions them in an interview style for about 45 minutes, creating an intriguing conversation. Halfway into the program, the moderator opens the floor for questions and comments from the audience. The speakers responds and continues to converse with the moderator. Once the program concludes, speakers who have authored books will sign them on stage. 

Budget  $106,075.00
Category  Public, Society Benefit, General/Other Citizen Participation Programs
Population Served Adults General/Unspecified Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 

At the end of each year (which includes two Ford Hall Forum seasons), we will have:

  • 1,900 Greater Bostonians who are now educated on various current events and without the filter of the media;
  • 1,900 Greater Bostonians who are now more deeply knowledgeable on current events in the unique way of in-person dialogue with primary sources;
  • 1,900 Greater Bostonians who have had a conversation on current events with others in different demographics who they do not normally interact with;
  • 1,000 Greater Bostonians of vulnerable classes (women, people of color, youth, the elderly, etc.) who have had an opportunity to be publicly heard;
  • 7,000 people across the country who view and learn from these forums via television or online outlets; and
  • 25 people inspired to continue the conversation, be it directly after the forums, online, in a classroom, or through further action on the issue at hand.
Program Long-Term Success 

The Ford Hall Forum has served Greater Boston for over a century—bringing to the city men and women who are shaping our world and offering free of charge to the general public the opportunity to hear their views firsthand.  More importantly, we offer the public the chance to engage in conversation with our speakers.  At the Forum no speaker has the last word and no viewpoint goes unchallenged.

 During more than 100 years of fostering public dialogue, the Forum has presented thousands of speakers and helped to inform hundreds of thousands of citizens. Speakers through the years have come from all points on the political spectrum and have included Martin Luther King, Jr. Ayn Rand, Rosalynn Carter, Rosa Parks, E.B. DuBois, Margaret Sanger, Ralph Reed and Malcolm X.  While we are proud of the famous names who have appeared at the Forum, we are equally proud of the important topics and lively discussion that have helped to educate us all.

Program Success Monitored By 

In order to measure our success rate, the Ford Hall Forum will continue to tally the number of people attending each forum. To determine the demographics of our audience, the Forum provides an optional and anonymous online poll using our registration tool, as well as surveys at the forums themselves. An increase in memberships will indicate that people feel this is an important free service to provide Greater Bostonians of low or no income.

 We will cull information from our current online purveyors of Ford Hall Forums (iTunes and YouTube) to see how many people are viewing them. We will also continue to find television outlets for our forums, such as past partners CSPAN and Comcast.

 Finally, we can track how many people continue the conversation online by reviewing their posts on our website, Facebook page, and others’ blogs. Those who discuss our forums in their college classrooms or take further action on the issue (e.g. write letters to Congress) typically report back to us.

Examples of Program Success 

The following are quotations from participants in Ford Hall Forum programs in the last two years.

“Where in the First Amendment does it say that money is speech? I can’t find it.”


- Audience member and former governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, questioning lawyer and moderator Floyd Abrams, 2011


“But not to be able to say it is anti-American.”


-Oscar- and Emmy-winner Louis Gossett, Jr. responding to an audience member’s negative comment on his book

“As a Palestinian-American who strongly dislikes your father I would like to take the time to thank you for coming today…”

-Audience member at “The Life of a Leader” with Gilad Sharon, son of Ariel Sharon, 2011

“You certainly reserve the right to disagree with me vehemently.”

– Former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, 2010

“…Why do the hairs on the back of our necks rise up when we entertain purely intellectual research questions…Can it be sinful even to think a thought?”

-Steven Pinker of FIRE, First Amendment Award recipient, 2010

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Ms. Jennifer Lise Bonardi
CEO Term Start Apr 2010
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience
  • Director of Development at Somerville Homeless Coalition, 2009
  • Development Officer, Corporations and Foundations at AIDS Action Committee, 2007-8
  • Associate Director of Institutional Advancement at Hearth, 2006-7
  • Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Non-Profit Management, graduated in 2005
  • Associate Director at Democracy Matters, 2002-5
  • Program Coordinator at Greenlining Institute, 1999-2002
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Mr. Alexander Minier Feb 2006 Jan 2010
Mr. Thomas Formicola Dec 2000 Jan 2005

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 1
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 7
Number of Contract Staff 2
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 1
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 1
Male: 0
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration No

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A


Board Chair Ms. Helen Rees
Board Chair Company Affiliation Helen Rees Literary Agency
Board Chair Term July 2012 - June 2015
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ms. Wendy Ballinger Ballinger Consulting Voting
Mr. Lee Carl Bromberg Esq. McCarter & English Voting
Ms. Monica Collins Freelance writer Voting
Mr. Tessil J. Collins Spectrum Broadcasting Corporation Voting
Mr. Eric Convey Boston Business Journal Voting
Ms. Katy Stromland Corneel Freelance Writer Voting
Ms. Martha Corneel Retired Voting
Mr. William J. Dorcena CenaMaven Voting
Mr. John Patrick Dowdall Esq. Global Renewable Solutions Voting
Mr. Paul Duffy Compass Eight Voting
Ms. Valerie Epps Esq. Suffolk University's Sawyer Law School Voting
Ms. Jennifer Erickson Metropolitan Area Planning Council Voting
Ms. Paula Gold Plymouth Rock Assurance Voting
Ms. Shelley C. Green SunGard Voting
Mr. Stephen Green Proctor & Gamble Voting
Dr. Kenneth Greenberg Suffolk University Voting
Mr. Dominick Ianno Pfizer Voting
Ms. Alice Jelin Isenberg Independent Non-Profit Organization Management Professional Voting
Ms. Sally D. Jackson Jackson & Co. Voting
Mr. Jeffrey Jacoby Boston Globe Voting
Mr. Rudolph Kass Esq. Retired Judge Voting
Mr. Frederick A. Laskey Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Voting
Mr. Arthur "Skip" Perham Comcast/NBC Voting
Mr. Walter Prince Prince Lobel Tye LLP Voting
Ms. Jan Putnam Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Helen Rees Helen Rees Literary Agency Voting
Ms. Sarah-Ann Shaw Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. Charles Tseckares CBT Architects (Childs Bertman Tseckares, Inc.) Voting
Mr. Donald G. Tye Esq. Prince Lobel Tye LLP Voting
Ms. Susan Webber Fundraising consultant Voting
Mr. John Wrobel Shipley Associates Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Smoki Bacon The Literati Scene NonVoting
Susan Bailey Gender and Public Policy Scholar NonVoting
Sandra Bakalar Retired NonVoting
Herbert S. Cohen Attorney NonVoting
Peter and Katie Dolan Childhood Obesity180 NonVoting
Sarah W. Farnsworth International resources Group NonVoting
Michael Goldman Wm. Gallagher Associates NonVoting
Thomas Gosnell Am. Fed of Teachers, Massachusetts NonVoting
Marvin Grossman Retired NonVoting
William Hahn Retired NonVoting
Ross Hall Attorney NonVoting
Juliette Kayyem Boston Globe NonVoting
Greg Lukianoff Foundation for Individual Rights NonVoting
Mary F. McTigue Irish Cultural Centre of New England NonVoting
Alex Minier Insurance executive NonVoting
Bruce Mohl Commonwealth Magazine NonVoting
Denise Panichas Samaritans of Rhode Island NonVoting
Carol Rose ACLU of Massachusetts NonVoting
Susan Shaer Women's Action for New Directions NonVoting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 4
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 28
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 15
Male: 18
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 99
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 19%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Executive
  • N/A
  • Nominating
  • Program / Program Planning

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2011 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2010 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2009 (%)

Fiscal Year July 01, 2012 to June 30, 2013
Projected Income $106,600.00
Projected Expense $106,075.00
Form 990s

2011 990

2010 990

2009 990

2008 990

Audit Documents

2011 Financial Statements

2010 Financial Statements

2009 Financial Statements

2008 Financial Statements

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2011 2010 2009
Total Revenue $164,833 $169,312 $179,801
Total Expenses $141,932 $146,585 $153,599

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2011 2010 2009
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$74,885 $75,630 $66,050
Government Contributions $0 $1,700 $8,460
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- $1,700 $8,460
Individual Contributions $41,711 $45,021 $89,753
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses $7,988 $1,311 $-4,880
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $34,037 $37,711 $21,921
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $6,212 $4,939 $-1,503

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2011 2010 2009
Program Expense $62,411 $61,724 $84,013
Administration Expense $45,433 $45,386 $47,304
Fundraising Expense $34,088 $39,475 $22,282
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.16 1.16 1.17
Program Expense/Total Expenses 44% 42% 55%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 23% 25% 12%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2011 2010 2009
Total Assets $155,791 $133,126 $111,215
Current Assets $74,571 $66,089 $50,416
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $2,126 $2,362 $3,178
Total Net Assets $153,665 $130,764 $108,037

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2011 2010 2009
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
The Lowell Institute $20,000.00
The Lowell Institute $40,000.00
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund $12,000.00
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund $15,000.00
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
Massachusetts Cultural Council $5,160.00
Massachusetts Cultural Council $6,980.00

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 6.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2011 2010 2009
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 35.08 27.98 15.86

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2011 2010 2009
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data, charts, and graphs are from compiled (2009-2010) and reviewed (2008) financials.  Individual contributions and membership fees are listed together as individual contributions.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?


3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?