David Wallace Douglas




Philanthropist, Environmental Lawyer

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David Wallace Douglas is a left-of-center American philanthropist, lawyer, writer, and environmentalist activist. He is the eldest grandson of Henry A. Wallace, who served in the Franklin Roosevelt administration as the 33rd Vice President of the United States 1 after he made a fortune in the hybrid seed business. 2


Douglas is married to the former Deborah Smith, who has partnered with him in philanthropic projects. 3 His sisters are Ann Cornell and Joan Murray. 4 His cousin, Scott Wallace, mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Congress as a Democrat from Pennsylvania in 2018, in a campaign that attracted national attention given his status as an ultra-wealthy heir to a Democratic political family. 5


Douglas has devoted much of his work to clean drinking water. He was the founder of Water Advocates, a charity that operated from 2005 to 2010. 6 From 2010 to 2015, he led Advocates for Development Assistance, which had a similar mission. 7 Douglas is listed as president of the environmentalist Wallace Genetic Foundation, which was founded in 1961 and in 2017 began the process of dissolving. 8 9

As of 2020, Douglas is the president and treasurer of the Wallace Genetic Foundation II, which holds more than $94 million in assets. 10 Douglas has written several books: Wilderness Sojourn: Notes in the Desert Silence (1989), Pilgrims in the Kingdom: Travels in Christian Britain (2004), and Letters of Faith (2015). 11 Douglas served on the board of Waterlines, a New Mexico-based drinking water organization; it no longer funds projects as of 2021. 12


Douglas has been the subject of profiles in Inside Philanthropy. In January 2022, he was identified as a “reinventor” heir of the Wallace fortune. 13 In 2020, the Wallace Genetic Foundation II provided significant resources to left-leaning environmentalist and family-planning organizations, including $25,000 to the Conservation Fund; $25,000 to Earthjustice; $30,000 to the Environmental Integrity Project; $50,000 to Family Health International; $50,000 to the National Wildlife Federation; and $25,000 to Population Services International. 14

Political Activity

Douglas is known for keeping a low profile. 15 Despite his relative anonymity, he has appeared in public to make political statements. In 2016, Douglas joined other descendants of prominent New Deal-era liberals and progressives to condemn the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, saying Trump had promoted hate and fascism. 16

In 2017, he participated in a panel discussion at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, celebrating the legacy of the New Deal. 17 In the fall of 2020, Douglas joined a City University of New York online discussion on his grandfather’s legacy of “Anti-Fascist, Anti-Racist Politics.” 18


Douglas has personally made more than $30,000 in reportable political contributions to Democratic candidates since 2013, including to his cousin Scott Wallace; Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Tom Udall (D-NM); and Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small (D-NM). 19


  1. “Public Invited to Hear About H.A. Wallace.” Farm Progress. April 17, 2007.
  2. An Uncommon Man. Youtube/An Uncommon Man. Accessed March 20, 2022.
  3. “About.” Wallace Genetic Foundation. Accessed March 20, 2022.
  4. “Jean W. Douglas.” Jean Wallace Douglas (Age 91). Washington Post, October 14, 2011.
  5. Briggs, Ryan. “Blasting Wallace Campaign, Cook Shifts PA-1 in Favor of Fitzpatrick.” City & State Pennsylvania. July 6, 2018.
  6. Goldstein, Steve. “Meet the Philanthropist Leading the Fight for U.S. Development Aid.” Inside Philanthropy. July 15, 2014.
  7. “Who We Are.” Global Water 2020. Accessed March 20, 2022.
  8. “About.” Wallace Genetic Foundation. Accessed March 20, 2022.
  9. Wallace Genetic Foundation, Inc., Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF), 2017. Accessed March 20, 2022.
  10. Wallace Genetic Foundation II, Inc., Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF), 2020. Accessed March 20, 2022.
  11. “Who We Are.” Global Water 2020. Accessed March 20, 2022.
  12. “Welcome to Waterlines.” Accessed March 20, 2022.
  13. Callahan, David. “The Most Powerful Heirs in Philanthropy.” Inside Philanthropy. January 19, 2022.
  14. Wallace Genetic Foundation II, Inc., Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF), 2020. Accessed March 20, 2022.
  15. Goldstein, Steve. “Inside the Beltway, Under the Radar: What’s David Wallace Douglas Up To?” Inside Philanthropy. July 8, 2014.
  16. [1] Valdes, Alisa. “Descendants of New Deal Architects Champion Progressive Causes, Rail Against Donald Trump.” Santa Fe New Mexican. June 24, 2016.
  17. “Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.” C-SPAN. August 19, 2017.
  18. “John Nichols — The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party: The Enduring Legacy of Henry Wallace’s Anti-Fascist, Anti-Racist Politics.” CUNY Hunter College. September 22, 2020.
  19. “Individual Contributions.” Federal Election Commission. December 31, 2021.
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