A Letter from the Founder
Dorothy Batten

As a philanthropist, I envision a world that echoes the joy and inspiration of my childhood.

Raised on the banks of the Atlantic Ocean and Virginia’s Tidewater rivers, I spent hours picking periwinkle snails off sea grass, digging for sand fiddlers, and searching for turtles, puffer fish, and duck eggs. I even befriended two wild Mallards who regularly visited my house expecting a meal of Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch.

When I wasn’t lost in the magic of the seashore, my friends and I explored our neighborhood gardens and woods—a large, overgrown wilderness where we climbed trees, foraged for pomegranates and wild berries, and rescued birds and squirrels. While playing in this verdant jungle, we created stories, games, and super powers while conjuring up Tarzan, Merlin, and other mythical beings.

When I struggled emotionally during my childhood, and the challenges of the world around me became too difficult, I turned to my animals and the outdoors for solace and rejuvenation. The natural world was my savior and provided the hope and resilience I needed to thrive. Even now, I take comfort in the fact that in nature, without technology and material goods, we are all equal and dependant upon one another, plant and animal alike, each just as valuable as the other.

I have always admired two great outdoorsmen—my father and grandfather—not only for their love of water and animals, but also for the pioneering spirit that inspired them to take risks in their business careers. They were successful entrepreneurs who dedicated time, effort and money to uplift the lives of those less fortunate.

My father was a newspaper man, a publisher with ink running through his veins. Despite his wealth and status, he was humble and kind, and always respected the opinions of others. He upheld the highest ethical standards, striving to publish only impartial and bipartisan stories— except in the 1950s (the only time he broke his vow to be unbiased), when he became the only publisher in Virginia to take a stance for desegregation.

Despite bomb threats and other acts of aggression against his papers, he provided a platform where his Pulitzer winning writers and local community leaders could advocate for equal access to education for the African American community. By his example, I learned the importance of empowering those who have been marginalized and excluded in society.

My father also lived with cancer for 30 years, and survived because he maintained hope, a positive attitude, and pursued a life filled with purpose. His resilience and determination inspired me to earn various college degrees (an MBA and MS in Counseling and Positive Psychology), even after an accident had left me disabled and not able to walk unassisted for a period of my life. The risks that my father took to forge new, meaningful paths also motivated me to start my own new venture, iThrive Games.

To this day my father remains one of my greatest inspirations. While he focused on education to uplift human lives, I work to advance human thriving through support of the social and emotional realm, and time has only increased my love for wild spaces, for creatures great and small. That’s why I focus on the collective wellbeing, helping ALL species and their habitats become resilient and sustainable.

Today, I dedicate my philanthropy to preserving and protecting nature and animals and empowering those who lack resources for wellbeing. I believe that people and nature can coexist in an equitable manner. And more than anything, I want to ensure my grandchildren grow up in a world as wonderful as mine.

Dorothy Batten