The North Carolina-based Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) utilizes legacy monies from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco fortune to fund North Carolina-based liberal agendas and organizations. It is one of numerous foundations created in whole or part with Reynolds trust funds, including the Mary Reynolds-Babcock Foundation, Arca Foundation (formerly the Nancy Reynolds Bagley Foundation), the Reynolds American Foundation, the Christopher Reynolds foundation and the Tides Foundation.
Smith Reynolds Foundation was founded in 1936 in memory of Reynolds Tobacco founder R.J. Reynolds’s youngest son, Zachary Smith Reynolds, who had died in 1932 at age 20. At a birthday party for one of his friends, held at the family estate Zachary died by an unexplained gunshot wound to the head.  Smith was to receive $17 million when he turned 21. After protracted wrangling among his two wives, his siblings created the Foundation in 1936 with $9 million in proceeds from his trust.
Some Foundation dollars were also provided by Smith’s older sister, Mary Reynolds-Babcock, who received her $30 million inheritance in 1936. The recipient of the largest share of her father’s estate, Reynolds-Babcock was considered one of the wealthiest people in the world at the time. Upon her death from stomach cancer at age 45, her trust created the Mary Reynolds-Babcock Foundation with an initial endowment of $12 million.
Libby Holman Reynolds gave birth to their son, Christopher Smith “Topper” Reynolds, three months premature. While he grew up as a normal child, questions lingered over his parentage because of the scandal surrounding his father’s death. He also died young, at the age of 17 in a mountain climbing accident that also took the life of his friend and climbing companion. Libby used the proceeds from his inheritance to found the Christopher Reynolds Foundation. Libby, whose second husband, Ralph Holmes, committed suicide in 1945, took her own life at her Stamford, Connecticut estate, Treetops, in June 1971.
ZSR was founded to perform “charitable works in the State of North Carolina,” and thus largely limits its giving to North Carolina-based organizations. Like many foundations, it originally focused on traditional projects, but over time drifted increasingly to the political left. According to Susan Myrick of Civitas Institute, which tracks North Carolina-based organizations and issues:
Once it was one of North Carolina’s oldest and most well-regarded philanthropic foundations, known for building schools and hospitals all across our state. But in the latter half of the 20th century, it morphed into a radical activist organization that now leads the charge for public policy that will grow government, increase regulation and weaken the family.
By 2002, ZSR had formalized that change, announcing “newly defined goals of promoting social, economic and environmental justice.”
Today ZSR provides a support system for a network of North Carolina-based leftwing organizations. Of these, three of the most notable are the NC Justice Center, Democracy NC and Blueprint NC. The Justice Center describes itself as the “state’s preeminent voice for economic, social and political justice,” and is one of the largest progressive groups in the state. Democracy NC is a preeminent liberal get-out-the-vote organization, whose longtime leader, progressive lobbyist Bob Hall, has been a major player in crafting NC election law and a primary mover in efforts to resist election reform.
Below is a list of 30 of the most important beneficiaries of ZSR funding, as compiled by the Civitas Institute:
|Information from Civitas Institute (2003 – 2014)|
|NC Justice Center||$15,079,700|
|NC Community Development Initiative||$7,676,600|
|Southern Environmental Law Center||$3,360,000|
|The Support Center||$2,587,602|
|NC Center for Voter Education||$2,300,000|
|Planned Parenthood of Central NC||$2,250,000|
|Center for Death Penalty Litigation||$1,352,500|
|NC Housing Coalition||$1,220,000|
|Center for Responsible Lending||$1,051,600|
|Sound Rivers (formerly Neuse Riverkeepers & Pamlico-Tar River Foundations)||$986,600|
|NC Sustainable Energy Association||$982,300|
|Center for Participatory Change||$957,500|
|Institute for Southern Studies||$941,200|
|Southern Coalition for Social Justice||$910,000|
|NC Council of Churches||$719,000|
|Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL)||$595,000|
|Carolina Justice Policy Center||$501,600|
|Action Institute NC||$450,000|
|Center For Community Action||$425,000|
|NARAL Pro-Choice NC Foundation||$425,000|
|ACLU-NC Legal Foundation Inc||$395,000|
|Equality NC Foundation||$355,000|
|NC Latino Coalition||$355,000|
|NC Fair Share Community Development Corporation||$335,000|
|NC League of Conservation Voters Foundation||$250,000|
|NC Advocates for Justice Foundation||$131,600|
Maurice “Mo” Green serves as executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
Lloyd P. (Jock) Tate Jr., is president of the organization. He also serves as professor emeritus at NC State University. He is also the grandson of Z. Smith Reynolds and Smith’s only living descendant.
Jane S. Patterson serves as vice president, and is an independent consultant.
Board of Trustees
Besides the above-named officers, the board of trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation consists of the following members:
Noah Reynolds is board treasurer. Reynolds also serves as executive director of the Reynolds Family Office.
Terry Lockamy serves as assistant treasurer to the board of trustees.
Maurice “Mo” Green is board secretary.
Chapel Thompson is assistant secretary to the board.
Nancy Bagley serves as editor-in-chief for Washington Life Magazine.
Piper Beveridge is vice president of government and strategic relations at Ellie Mae, a software firm.
Anita Brown-Graham serves as program director and professor of public law and government at the UNC School of Government.
Daniel G. Clodfelter is an attorney at law with the firm of Parker Poe.
Ilana Dubester is executive director of El Vinculo Hispano (the Hispanic Liaison), a local Hispanic community needs organization.
John O. McNairy serves as president and CEO of Harvey Enterprises and Affiliates, a medical evaluation firm.
Mary Mountcastle is the granddaughter of Mary Reynolds Babcock.
Virgil L. Smith is chairman of Smith Edwards Group, LLC.
In addition to the board of trustees, Stephen L. Neal and Katharine B. Mountcastle are life trustees.
Community Leadership Council
ZSR also has created what it calls the Community Leadership Council. ZSR describes the council as “a diverse group of leaders, who have their finger on the pulse of the State, [to] partner with us as we continue to work alongside the people and communities of North Carolina.” CLC is comprised of 20 members who serve a three-year term. Initiated in 2013, this is the second council.
|Community Leadership Council|
|Adam Klein||Chief Strategist, American Underground|
|Adam Tarleton||Partner, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP|
|Anna Warburton Munroe||Shareholder, Allman Spry Davis Leggett & Crumpler, PA|
|Charles Thomas||Program Director, Knight Foundation|
|Dawn Chavez||Executive Director, Asheville Greenworks|
|Edward Boyd||Chief Strategy Officer, iNvictus Group Holdings, LLC|
|James Moore||Police Chief, City of Rocky Mount|
|Jamilla Hawkins||Extension Agent, Community & Rural Development, Edgecombe County Center, NC Cooperative Extension|
|Jill Swain||Executive Director, Huntersville Chamber of Commerce|
|Juanita Wilson||Director of Snowbird/Cherokee County Services, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians|
|Kate Pett||Executive Director, Asheville City Schools Foundation|
|Lorelei Costa||Executive Director, Outer Banks Community Foundation|
|Marcus Hill||Lead Coordinator, Forsyth Community Food Consortium|
|Mary Joan Pugh||Deputy Director, N.C. Zoo|
|Matt Calabria||Wake County Commissioner, Wake County|
|Misty Chase||Director of Greene County Transportation, Greene County|
|Peter St. Onge||Associate Editor, Editorial Board, The Charlotte Observer|
|Ricky Hurtado||Executive Director, Scholar’s Latino Initiative|
|Shorlette Ammons||Community Foods Systems Outreach Coordinator, NC A&T State University, Center for Environmental Farming Systems|
|Sonja Gantt||Executive Director, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Foundation|