Howard Ahmanson, Jr. is, among other things, a Christian philanthropist who—with his wife Roberta Green—uses his wealth and influence to advocate for and aid humanitarian projects, the arts, and other projects meant to serve communities both in California and around the world.

In order to understand his impact on culture, it is important to first consider the impressive legacy of his father, Howard Ahmanson Sr.

Howard F. Ahmanson Sr. was a prominent businessman—most notably in the savings and loan industry. Seeing an opportunity in properties threatened by impending foreclosure during the Great Depression, Ahmanson Sr. offered insurance to such entities and later began seriously investing in real estate.

Approximately two decades after he began establishing his fortune and becoming the largest underwriter in California, he settled in Los Angeles and harnessed the post-World War II real estate spike. Ahmanson never failed to take advantage of an opportunity when he saw one, and notably remarked that “the worse it got, the better it was for me.”

This perseverance served Ahmanson Sr. well, and such a shrewd, steady mentality led to decisions that would set him and his constituents up for long-term success.

H.F. Ahmanson—the company Ahmanson had built in response to the Great Depression and his economic goals—came to buy the Home Savings of America, which later grew into the  “financial giant” that became simply Home Savings. The company adapted well to the changes in the market across a number of decades, yet managed to keep “a tight lid on the status of its operations,” until Ahmanson’s death in 1968.

As mentioned, Howard Ahmanson Sr. had been planted in Southern California, and invested in the city in more ways than simply financial. During the latter half of his life, Ahmanson served on the board of the Museum of Science and Industry, which started a trail of other partnerships, including the founding of the Otis Art Institute, and a lofty $2 million grant to fund the construction of the monumental Los Angeles County Museum of Art, more popularly known as LACMA. He also employed local artists to add value to commercial property with the artists’ distinct mediums.

LACMA’s mission is to “serve the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition, and interpretation of significant works of art from a broad range of cultures....for the widest array of audiences.” The museum prides itself on not giving one single culture or era more “stature” than any other, and hosts a number of events for the community, including but not limited to art camps for kids and teens, school partnerships, gallery walks and lectures for the general public. Each service is accessible to people across class and ethnic lines.

Most recently, LACMA has postponed its exhibitions, some of which include Vera Lutter’s Museum in the Camera, Bill Viola’s Slowly Turning Narrative and Luchita Hurtado’s I Live, I Die, I Will Be Reborn. In response to COVID-19, the museum has launched LACMA @ Home, where regular audiences can gain access to short films, virtual exhibition walkthroughs, and documentaries.

Howard Ahmanson Jr. has successfully carried on the culturally significant work that his father began. In the same way that Howard Ahmanson Sr. saw a need and quickly flew to support and improve it, Ahmanson Jr. has since supported organizations similar to LACMA, like the Fullhart-Carnegie Museum Trust located in Perry, Iowa, where his wife Roberta Ahmanson grew up.

All of this work is done through Fieldstead and Company, Howard and Roberta Ahmanson’s personal donor organization, which does not limit its support to only endeavors of the arts, but also especially for organizations partial to Evangelicalism, like Food for the Hungry and the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC).

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