As children, Paul and Sherry Brainerd spent summers at their family's cabin on Diamond Lake in southern Oregon. Those experiences instilled in them an appreciation of nature and a respect for the environment.

Years later, brother and sister both became entrepreneurs; Paul founded and later sold the Aldus Corporation, which created PageMaker, while Sherry co-founded and ran two technology companies. In 1995, Paul used profits from the sale of his company to launch the Brainerd Foundation. Since then, their shared love for the environment, combined with their entrepreneurial spirit, has informed the foundation's approach to grantmaking.

Mt. Thielsen at Diamond Lake.
Mt. Thielsen at Diamond Lake. Photo via Wikimedia

Paul and Sherry bring a business and venture capital approach to philanthropy, always looking for innovative solutions and recognizing the need to remain nimble and tailor grantmaking to fit specific communities and situations.

Paul and Sherry are acutely aware of the environmental challenges of our times and the foundation aims to increase the capacity of grassroots organizations and build the will of Northwest policy-makers and communities to more effectively address environmental issues.

In the foundation's early days, Paul toured the region and met with key environmental leaders and regional decision-makers. In a series of over 20 meetings he asked people to share what it would take to achieve real wins on the ground. It was that information which helped determine the foundation's major focus areas, which include conservation policy, place-based conservation, and conservation capacity, along with our Grassroots and Opportunity funds.

Marina and docks at Diamond Lake.
Marina and docks at Diamond Lake. Photo via Wikimedia