Excerpt from an upcoming feature article by Zachary Calloway:
CHICAGO, IL – “Wow, I never really thought about it like that,” Schnick said, “But I guess so,” when I ask him if he considers himself a philanthropist. “I mean, this is the most ambitious project I’ve ever been a part of,” he declares. “But we’re not Bill and Melinda. Yet…”
He, of course, is talking about the new charitable foundation he has co-founded with his wife Stephanie Schnick. Both turned 50 in 2019, and both see this project as the culmination of where their respective careers have taken them. And although they don’t say it, their legacy.
“If you had told me that we’d be here launching this thing,” Stephanie says, “I wouldn’t have believed you.” What does she mean by this statement? I think she means her and Todd’s life was very, very different just two years ago. They’ve done a lot of living since Fall 2017, when everything changed. More on that later.
Looking back to when Todd’s career started, he credits his mother with suggesting the shift in his college education that set him on a completely different path. Like most young men of his age, he landed at The Florida State University with plans to get a business degree, likely to follow in the path of his successful corporate father, Thomas Schnick.
But instead, he pivoted and went down the path of politics and history. And this lead to an almost twenty year run as a congressional aide and national political operative.
He still chuckles visualizing his mom and dad watching his testimony during the infamous Florida Recount in 2000, whilst they were waiting in NYC to depart on a plane to Europe. He doesn’t really like to talk about it now, “It was a weird time in all of our lives,” said Todd. “U.S. Marshals patrolling our roof, finding myself pouring coffee for Bob Dole in the HQ break room, tossing a football with (former SecState) James Baker, and receiving two death threats as a result of my televised courtroom appearance.”
Todd’s political career took him from the heights of BushWorld Florida in the late nineties, to Nevada, and finally to Georgia. And it was in Georgia where the political merry-go-round blessedly stopped. Helping elect the state’s first Republican Governor and also defeating an incumbent U.S. Senator, it was a good year for Republicans. But a short-lived stint as a lobbyist proved miserable, and then Todd quickly launched a national political consultancy.
The consultancy brought him all over the U.S., including managing a handful of gubernatorial bids. But after three years he got the itch to do something different. And it was here that his life and career took another unexpected turn. He largely ditched politics…
“BUT I want to have more of an impact, I want us to be able to make a real difference, now,” says Stephanie. She is arguing against Todd’s current position of helping many more organizations, verses her position of distributing far fewer grants to organizations, but spending a lot more on their behalf. It’s one of those arguments Todd will likely lose, but this debate demonstrates the early stage thinking of the new foundation…
The two co-founders formed their 501(c) in a way that enabled them to tackle virtually any type of problem, and although they want that flexibility long-term, out of the gate, The Todd & Stephanie Schnick Foundation will focus on three core issues: illiteracy, animal rescue, and providing support for low-to-middle income families caregiving an ill loved one at home.
(More of the Calloway piece coming soon…)