Supporting the Right to Choose

Joseph Wheeler

Joseph Wheeler has been a Pathfinder since the early 1990s, but his support for family planning long precedes his support of Pathfinder. Together with his wife, Verona, he has generously ensured that Pathfinder can continue our work for generations to come by joining our Legacy Society and making a bequest.

Born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1926, Wheeler grew up the son of dairy farmers. After a brief stint in the Army Air Corps, he graduated from Bowdoin in 1948 and later received his master’s degree from Harvard. In 1961, he joined Sargent Shriver in establishing the Peace Corps, eventually leaving for an esteemed career at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

In 1969, Wheeler became USAID’s Mission Director in Pakistan. At the time, the country consisted of the western wing, what we think of today as Pakistan, and the eastern wing, currently known as Bangladesh.

In his memoir, Wheeler shared how family planning programs in Bangladesh (then eastern Pakistan) were first established: an existing cholera program enlisted a community-based volunteer to teach women about fertility and provide contraceptives. The program found that when women and men received the requisite information and means of protection, they waited longer to have children and spaced their pregnancies at safer intervals. Given its success, the program eventually expanded throughout eastern Pakistan.

Wheeler said eastern Pakistan’s support for family planning at that time contributes to the vast difference in contraceptive use among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis today—nearly 27 percent more women of reproductive age use contraception in Bangladesh than in Pakistan. In addition, he attributes the difference to Bangladesh continuing to make family planning a higher priority, the greater likelihood that women and girls in Bangladesh attend school and to cultural differences between the two countries.

It was also in Pakistan that Wheeler worked with Steve Sinding, a recognized expert on international population issues, a Pathfinder board member, and until his retirement in 2006, Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Sinding introduced Wheeler to Pathfinder’s work and ultimately recruited him to the board of directors.

Wheeler became involved with Pathfinder because he saw how Pathfinder’s approach in Pakistan improved the lives of women, their families and their communities.

Wheeler’s favorite slogan comes from Immanuel Kant: “So act that your actions can be universalized.”

“This contains the assumption that all of us are important—we are brothers and sisters in a single family,” Wheeler says.

To learn more about ways you can join Joseph Wheeler in supporting Pathfinder's work into the future, please contact Rayna Bagchi at or 443-824-2487.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Pathfinder a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Pathfinder International, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 9 Galen St., Suite 217, Watertown, MA 02472, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Pathfinder or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Pathfinder as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Pathfinder as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Pathfinder where you agree to make a gift to Pathfinder and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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