May 9, 2017 / 1:01 PM / 3 years ago

Q&A-Mother-daughter charity team has that Pittsburgh Steelers spirit

NEW YORK, May 9(Reuters) - As part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cindy Citrone had the connections to get help when she wanted to raise awareness for organ donation. She got the National Football League team to sign on to a fundraising campaign, and got the city’s pro baseball and hockey teams, the Pirates and Penguins, on board as well for an upcoming all-Pittsburgh effort to get more people screened as potential organ donors.

In her own family, Cindy turned to her husband Rob Citrone, 52, who co-founded the hedge fund Discovery Capital Management and has a net worth of over $1 billion according to Forbes. The couple has owned a minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2008. But she also leaned on her children, particularly her oldest daughter Gabriela.

While a recent Fidelity study found that millennial and boomer women diverge in their approach to charity, Cindy, 50, and Gabriela, 21, recently spoke to Reuters about how they were trying to stay on the same page in passing along family money values.

Q: Where did the family values about money start?

Cindy: My grandparents had a jar on top of the refrigerator. They’d put $5 in once a month for our education fund. My grandmother worked in a cafeteria; my grandfather worked on a trolley. My parents were college grads and that was important to them. We grew up in Pittsburgh - comfortable, middle class. We thought we had the world. We gave to our church, the hospital and the colleges. We were always told that you helped anyone who needed help.

Q: What was your first experience handling your own money with a job?

Cindy: I worked as a janitor at my high school. It was a summer thing, and it had union benefits. Unions at that point were very important. I also worked in a deli and with special needs children as a respite-care provider. I put all the money toward education and spending money.

Q: When Rob got successful in financial management, was it jarring?

Cindy: When we were first married, I was working and Rob was finishing up school. We had a small apartment that we rented. It was probably about five or six years into our marriage that our dreams started to be presented in front of us.

For him, it was not a shock, it was one of his goals. For me, it was beyond my wildest dreams. We had no experience with anyone of great wealth.

Q: When did you start to give seriously to charity?

Cindy: We always gave, it was just the amount that changed. Initially, it was our time. I’d be on the church fair committee or work on an auction. The family foundation came about three or four years ago. We do the majority of our giving through a donor advised fund at Fidelity - it’s just cleaner and easier and they vet the charities.

Q: How have your four children (now 23, 21, 18 and 15) been involved in the giving?

Gabriela: We were raised attending these events. I remember always having a lot of people in my house. I thought of it as more of a party, not a chore. It was something our family raised us to value. I eventually had more hands-on experience with internships, and this past year, I’ve been working on planning an event about philanthropy at college.

Q: What do you think will be the future of your family foundation and the legacy of your family?

Cindy: I want to give the kids a great framework. I believe our model is going to be to say, “This is the way we did things. I want to give you the opportunity to figure out how you want to do it.”

Gabriela: I hope to pass down the values. My mom and I talk a lot more about our giving and doing it together. I realized that was what I wanted to do. I’m studying event management and I want to work with nonprofits. (Editing by Lauren Young and Richard Chang)

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