John F. Hodgman grew up the son of a Fitchburg steamfitter and homemaker. A $100 scholarship from an alumni association helped him become the first in his family to go to college. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Boston College and in quick succession attended the University of Virginia Law School, served in the United States Air Force Reserve, and worked on a campaign for Dukakis.
John says that by the time he became a BCF Trustee in 2011, he was 66 years old, his life accomplishments felt “pretty well set in stone,” and he was looking forward to retirement from his second career, as Professor of the Practice in Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies at the Tufts Gordon Institute. He was unaware that closer to retirement an opportunity would arise to engage in a long-term, local effort that would leverage his philanthropic expertise to greatly expand educational opportunities in his community. By this time Brookline had been his home for nearly four decades, and he and his wife Adele Pike would soon decide to relocate just up the road, to a condo in which, he says, they can age in place.
When asked in 2014 to chair the Scholarship Committee for the newly established BCF Scholarship Fund for Brookline High School, John considered it “one final opportunity to support Brookline youngsters.” He notes that Brookline High produces well-prepared students, particularly in STEM, and he wants to make sure that every one of those young people who has aspiration and talent can go on to pursue a college education. Citing BCF’s Understanding Poverty report, he says “It struck me that a big part of our population has this need.”
Under John’s direction, the fund is growing, and will have supported 81 Brookline High students at college since its inception in 2014.
“The BCF provided a challenge to exercise locally all I’ve learned about leadership and philanthropy.” Long after thinking life was “set in stone” and retirement approached, it turns out John was not done creating opportunity for others.