The Conable Family
"That our children understand why Dad felt so strongly about giving back to Western New York is important to all of us."
Sisters Jane Schmieder and Anne Conable
After retiring from public service, in 1991, former Western New York Congressman Barber Conable established a private foundation to benefit organizations addressing issues in his home counties in Wyoming and Genesee. He did so, in part, as a way to engage and bring together his adult children to discuss local issues and organizations in need of support.
Since Conable’s death in 2003, siblings Anne, Jane, Emily, and Sam honor their father’s memory by getting together, in person and by conference call, each November with their Mother to catch up and debate which causes to support.
“We usually have a focused—and lively—conversation on what’s going on in the region and where we can make a difference, but we also use our meetings as an opportunity to share what we’re all up to,” said Anne. “It’s become a tradition that we all look forward to, an increasingly important one since our family is rather spread out these days.”
In 2005, the family transferred the Conable Family Foundation to CFGB. And over the years have used it to support a wide variety of regional projects including an archaeological dig (Jane: “Dad was fascinated with that stuff”), women’s causes (Anne: “There’s a lot of women in this family!”), leadership scholarships, and historic restoration. Now, the Conable siblings are starting to think about how to engage the next generation—Barber’s eleven grandchildren.
“That our children understand why Dad felt so strongly about giving back to Western New York is important to all of us,” said Anne. “Sharing this exercise with our kids, getting them involved in the process, will be the next step in continuing to honor his wishes for our family and the community he cared so much about.”
According to Anne and Jane, “This is what he ultimately wanted—that we would use our family giving as a way to stay connected with each other—and with Western New York.”