Ron Arnold's Left Tracking Library


Joshua Mailman

The Progressive Movement's Wildcard Moneyman, son of a wealthy New York businessman, has personally founded or funded more "social-responsibility" business initiatives and leftist grantmaking foundations than anyone, paralleling the money-funneling accomplishment of his colleague Drummond Pike of the Tides Family of Organizations.

Joshua Lawrence Mailman
Sole Trustee, Joshua L Mailman Charitable Trust
Vice President, Joseph L Mailman Foundation, Inc

Founder, Mailman Institute (Tides Center Project)
President, Sirius Business Corporation.
Co-founder, Threshold Foundation
Co-founder, Social Venture Network
Co-founder, Network for Social Change UK
Business for Social Responsibility
Co-founder, Social Venture Network Europe
Co-founder, Social Venture Network/Asia
Grameen Telecom (Bangladesh)
Co-founder, Forum Empresa (South America)
Founding investor, Global Telesystems Group

Founding investor, Stirling Energy Systems
Founding investor, Shaman Pharmaceuticals
Founding investor,
Founding investor, (now Motivano)

Founding investor, (out of business)

Founding investor, deNovis (out of business)
Founding investor, Earthstone International
Founding investor, Juniper Partners
Founding investor, Calvert Social Venture Partners (now Calvert Investments)
Investor, Energia Global (acquired by Enel Green Power)
Investor, Seeds of Change
Founding shareholder, Stoneyfield Farms
Founding shareholder, Utne Reader
Trustee, Sigrid Rausing Trust (London)

Trustee and Patron, Living Earth Foundation (UK)
President, Sierra Madre Alliance Inc
Director, Joseph L Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
ABC Home and Planet Foundation
Director, Afropop Worldwide

Director, Fund for Global Human Rights

Human Rights Watch
Director, Witness
Director, World Music Productions
Former Director,
International Rivers Network
Founding Donor, Alternative Education Resource Organization
Donor, Social Investment Forum

Donor, Rocky Mountain Institute

Donor, Green Map Systems
Donor, Institute for Multitrack Diplomacy
Donor, Global Partners Working Group

Donor, Americans for Peace Now
Donor, Chiapas Media Project

Donor, Internews Network

Donor, American Indian Forum 2001 at Cornell University

Member, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities (a project of Center for American Progress)
Advisory Committee Member, Ecologic Development Fund

Advisory Board Member, Donor, CorpWatch

Advisory Board Member, Reebok Human Rights Award
Advisor, Pema Fund (San Francisco)
Investment Advisor, NextPoint Partners

Convener, a 1981 meeting in Estes Park, Colorado that created the group of wealthy heirs and notables called "The Doughnuts"

This partial list indicates Joshua Mailman's wide interests and talents.
Joshua Mailman is poorly mapped on Muckety.

Social Network Diagram - Joshua Mailman


Joshua Lawrence Mailman

Doughnuts, Not Nuts With Dough

Joshua Mailman is most notable for convening the group of wealthy heirs known as The Doughnuts, who morphed into the Threshold Foundation, which spread the gospel that giving money was a spiritual activity, and generated hundreds of new "socially responsible" businesses and non-profits. Mailman was born in New York City, New York in 1954. He has an older sister, Jody Wolfe, who lives in Florida, and had an older brother (b. 1953), Joseph S. Mailman, who died in 1989.

Joshua's father was Joseph L. Mailman (1901-1990), businessman and philanthropist. Joseph and his brother Abraham (d. 1980) began their careers in the razor blade industry and expanded to form one of America's earliest conglomerates in the 1930s. They later acquired substantial interests in a number of American and Canadian companies, including Air Express International, Diamond T Motors, Gulfstream Land and Development and Republic Aviation, which supported both brothers' generous philanthropy through their Mailman Foundation (1943). Joseph Mailman served on the Gulfstream Board of Directors with Samuel Bronfman of the Seagram empire.

Joshua's mother, Phyllis Day Scheffreen Mailman, was the daughter of Irene and Abraham Lincoln Scheffreen, and has been a talented manager of her husband's assets and a leader in philanthropy since his death. She oversaw a $33 million donation from the Mailman Foundation to Columbia University for the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, of which Joshua is a Director.

Joshua attended Collegiate High School, New York City (1968-1972) and Middlebury College, Vermont (1973-1977), where he earned a B.A. degree.

It is significant that Stephen C. Rockefeller (Nelson's son), was Professor of Religion at Middlebury during Joshua's years there. Prof. Rockefeller taught that the environment has a spiritual aspect (he edited the 1991 book Spirit and Nature: Why the Environment is a Religious Issue), which became one of Mailman's core beliefs.

Joshua's future was clouded September 7, 1976 by his arrest in a "healing" session at the "Institute of Fundamentals" in Lincoln, Vermont, involving LSD, marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Arrested with him were three "healers" and five other participants, one a fellow Middlebury student. Police dropped drug use charges and nothing serious came of the incident for the participants, but the story shows that 22-year-old Joshua was a child of the 1970s in seeking expanded consciousness. More importantly, it shows that he was also an offspring of the civil rights and anti-war movements, and the growing anti-apartheid movement of the time: he rejected the Timothy Leary "tune in, turn on, drop out" agenda in favor of seeking healing power - the Institute's three "healers" were Mexican nationals, two of whom claimed to be doctors, possibly curanderos (folk healers) or even brujos (shamanic sorcerers).

Two years later, James George, Canadian Ambassador, High Commissioner to India, and Buddhist devotee, retired at the age of 60 and co-founded the Threshold Foundation in London, evidently with Joshua Mailman. State corporate records show that the "Threshold Foundation USA" was incorporated in New York on August 17, 1979, presumably as the American counterpart, and presumably by 25-year-old Joshua Mailman (no registered agent was listed). The corporation was renamed simply the Threshold Foundation in 1984, the year it became a Tides Foundation project clearly connected to Mailman, and it was registered in California in 1986 as a corporation of New York origin. Thus, the true ancestry of the now-well-known Threshold Foundation is considerably more complicated than their official history indicates, and provides a more explanatory view into Joshua Mailman's personal development.

The Threshold Foundation remained under the direction of James George in London from 1978 to 1982 and was primarily concerned with promoting alternative healing methods, primarily herbal medicine, with a heavy emphasis on Yoga therapy and Buddhist and Taoist practices. But James George also played a leading role in getting the International Whaling Commission to adopt a moratorium on high seas whaling and to ban all whaling in the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic. In 1981, the Threshold Foundation published a study promoting natural medicine written by two noted British Ph.D.s, Stephen Fulder (biochemistry and chemical pharmacology) and Robin Monro (biochemistry), The Status of Complimentary Medicine in the United Kingdom.

The convergence of healing, the environment and philanthropy as a spiritual activity had shaped young Joshua Mailman's future by the time he was 25 years old.

In May of 1981, Joshua Mailman took part in New York City's first All-Species Day Parade and Festival on Fifth Avenue. He told New York Times reporter Laurie Johnston, ''The earth, the air, the water, the creepy-crawlies, the ones that fly in the sky, the two-legged ones, all life is sacred and the more we forget that, the more all life is threatened.'' He was wearing a woolly, horned head buffalo suit. Their parade ended at Central Park's bandshell with music, dance and a Creature Congress.

The Doughnuts: Later in 1981, Joshua Mailman convened a secret meeting in Estes Park Colorado, bringing together a semi-mystical New Age group of 22 wealthy young heirs who called themselves "The Doughnuts." They named themselves after a circular cloud that appeared over the meditation circle they had formed in their outdoor council, where they contemplated "the sacredness of the earth as a living organism" and their duty to save it and its indigenous peoples through joint use of their inherited wealth.

Mailman's original semi-mystical purpose was reflected in a later statement: "To fund programs that support the transformation, growth, and healing of individuals, families, and communities; projects that recognize the sacredness of the earth as a living organism, and that address issues affecting the natural environment and all species."

By 1981, the philosophy of the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - that mankind was the axis of evolution into higher consciousness - had opened the way for British scientist James Lovelock and his Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a kind of superorganism. The two ideas that the earth is a living organism and that large scale group consciousness has effects in the physical world (currently being researched as part of the Princeton Global Consciousness Project) undergirded Mailman's determination to fund many small consciousness-altering projects to generate large scale changes for the better in the natural and social world. This was the basic premise of the 1982 incarnation of the Threshold Foundation.

In early 1982 Mailman co-opted the Threshold Foundation name and funding away from the London institution for the use of his informal gathering of wealthy "Doughnuts." Each "Doughnut" was committed to donate a large amount annually, and sworn to absolute secrecy about their commitment to lofty quasi-religious goals, the projects they funded, and their personal identities.

Only slowly did their existence surface and the identities of major players become public. Even today, outsiders cannot confidently identify more than about a dozen of the 22 original Estes Park Doughnuts.

Which brings up the question, "How do we know this imminent James George and the London Threshold Foundation were precursors of Joshua Mailman's Threshold Foundation?" The answer to that one is quite certain. James George was one of the original Doughnuts, was a member of their highest-level "Circle Committee," and wrote a complaining letter to his colleagues in the  Doughnuts Newsletter, Spring 1984 that makes it perfectly clear:

Before Threshold migrated from England to America, we had been more effective in fostering a dialogue between "alternative" therapies and the medical profession. The present Research Council for Complimentary Medicine and the British Foundation for Natural Therapies in London are spin-offs of the ground-breaking Threshold Study of the Status of Complimentary Medicine in the U.K. by Fulder and Monro, 1981.

In America, although individual Doughnuts have been deeply involved, only one of the forty Threshold projects (Gesundheit) has addressed this concern.

After Threshold: One of Mailman’s most successful subsequent creations has been the Social Venture Network, co-founded in 1987 with Wayne Silby of the Calvert Group. SVN fills a unique niche among progressive investment activists, uniting some 250 members over time in building eco-friendly, socially responsible businesses.

Mr. Mailman claims that all his adult life, his urge was "to not hold on to money, but instead to practice the habit of letting it go out and letting it flow!"