How Billionaire Steve Tisch’s Fiancée Katia Francesconi Inspires Him To Make The World A Better Place

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Katia Francesconi and Steve TischPhoto Credit: Ovidiu Hrubaru : Shutterstock.com

 

It’s often said that the best love makes you a better person, and this statement couldn’t be truer for billionaire Steve Tisch and Brazilian beauty Katia Francesconi, who, after meeting and falling in love in late 2014, immediately joined forces the following year to create the nonprofit Francesconi-Tisch Charitable Fund, which helps underprivileged youths to become confident, successful and contributing members of society.

Shortly after their first fated meeting, Tisch, the chairman of the NFL’s New York Giants, a prolific, Oscar-winning film producer and a stakeholder in his family’s Loews Corporation, joined Francesconi, who then worked in sales and marketing, for his first trip to her home of São Paulo, where he saw firsthand what it was like for those who live with extreme poverty. Brazil has some of the highest income inequality of any country in the world, and many of its poorest citizens live in slums ruled by drug lords. Because of their limited options, many children end up becoming involved in crimes that include drug trafficking. It is a vicious circle, and one that doesn’t allow for many to break free. Just one visit convinced Tisch that he needed to make a difference.“When Katia asked if we could create a fund to address [poverty and crime], my response to her was an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ Katia has opened my eyes and my heart to the beauty and magic of Brazil, as well as to the numerous challenges in her home country,” Tisch says.

Steve Tisch 1Photo Credit: The Francesconi-Tisch Charitable Fund

He and Francesconi are now committed to providing children and teens with tools and opportunities to help achieve a better future. They work with youth in Katia’s home country, as well as in Southern California and New York City—where Tisch has home bases—partnering with other charities to enhance the successful programs the organizations already have in place. A few of their passion projects include the Vista Del Mar Child & Family Services, where the fund donated a garden (now referred to as “Katia’s Garden”) where kids learn to grow and prepare their own foods; DreamYard, a Bronx-based arts and social-justice organization; The Brazil Foundation, which works locally in Brazil to distribute resources to charities in need; Gerando Falcões, an organization that believes skin color and socioeconomic background should not determine what one is able to accomplish in life; and Sítio Esperança—or Hope Farm—a Brazilian organization that focuses on ecological and social-awareness programs with the goal of developing positive personal values.

Tisch, 69, learned the art of giving back early in life, crediting his mother, Joan, and father, Preston Robert, a film and television executive who also served as the United States Postmaster General, with his penchant for being charitable. “Because of my parents, sharing my good fortune with others is definitely in my DNA,” he notes. “My parents were amazing role models regarding philanthropy. They taught my siblings and me by example, and made us aware from a young age that it is important to leave the world better than how you found it. [From my parents] I saw wonderful examples of kindness, respect, gratitude and appreciation.”

The first organization he supported was New York City’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in 1985, where his mother volunteered working with young men and women in the early fight against AIDS. He has dedicated his time, attention and finances to nonprofits in the arts, medical research, education and AIDS/HIV research forums ever since.

Katia FrancesconiPhoto Credit: The Francesconi-Tisch Charitable Fund

It is his “day jobs” that allow Tisch the luxury of giving back in the way he was raised to. He is, after all, the only person with a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy nomination and Super Bowl rings. Through Escape Artists, an independently financed film production company based at Sony Pictures Entertainment—the result of a merger between his Steve Tisch Company and Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal’s Black & Blu—he is responsible for the Oscar-winning 1994 drama Forrest Gump, as well as a slew of Denzel Washington’s recent major movies, such as The Taking of Pelham 123, The Equalizer, The Magnificent Seven, 2017’s Oscar-nominated Roman J. Israel, Esq. and the upcoming The Equalizer 2, among other projects. Working with the New York Giants, the $1.2 billion-valued football franchise his family co-owns with Wellington Mara (who is, coincidentally, the grandfather of Hollywood actresses Rooney and Kate Mara), he has accepted the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy twice, when the Giants won both Super Bowl XLII and XLVI.

“There are many ‘highlights’ of my career,” he admits. “Winning two Super Bowls is obviously incredibly special. Winning the Oscar for producing Forrest Gump is another highlight. I am proud to have been a producer of American History X, The Pursuit of Happyness and Seven Pounds—movies that I believe not only entertained, but also educated and empowered. I am very fortunate to be in two very exciting industries: the motion-picture business and co-owning, with my sister, Laurie, my brother, Jon, and the Mara family, the New York Giants. Being able to assist in providing entertainment for people is very rewarding… but even more meaningful is family. I have five wonderful children, and my fiancée, Katia, is my best friend and life partner.”

Later this year, he’ll marry his best friend and life partner in what is sure to be a lavish (and likely philanthropic) ceremony, albeit one the two are keeping carefully under wraps to maintain their privacy.

Tisch, who has been married twice before, finally knows the meaning of true love, and if that makes him sentimental, so be it. After all, he was born on Valentine’s Day. “[Katia] and my children inspire me to be a better man and to help make a difference in the lives of others,” he avows, adding, “I hope every day I live a life with those qualities and share it with my children, Katia, my brother and sister, and with amazing people I will meet in the future.”

ONE ON ONE WITH KATIA FRANCESCONI

Katia FrancesconiPhoto Credit: The Francesconi-Tisch Charitable Fund

Can you tell us how the Francesconi-Tisch Charitable Fund came to be? 

In 2014, after my fiancé joined me in Brazil and witnessed the extreme poverty and dire conditions of children living in the slums of São Paulo, we talked about ways that we could help make a difference. That trip cemented our commitment to create a charitable organization that would fund programs specifically designed to help children in need, both in Brazil and elsewhere. 

Why is this cause so personally important to you?

Growing up in São Paulo, I witnessed the sad reality of children born into impoverished families that lacked hope for a better future. Later in life, with my aunt, I visited one of São Paulo’s poorest and most dangerous slums. She had been volunteering there for years. It was a frightening and eye-opening experience for me. The conditions were so desperate and the kids were so vulnerable it broke my heart. They were trapped in a cycle of poverty and abuse, and I vowed to dedicate my time to finding a way to help them. 

How specifically does the organization give back?  

Currently, I’m working with young adults at Vista Del Mar Child & Family Services. One of my personal passions is nutrition, and helping Vista expand its Garden-to-Table initiative has been a mutual blessing. Seeing their faces light up with pride is a beautiful reminder that kindness, love and support can have a ripple effect in our community. In Brazil, we partner with organizations and programs that are helping children overcome the prison of poverty so they can have hope for a better life. 

What, to you, is the greatest luxury in life and why?  

Good health has always been a priority in my life. For a few years, I didn’t know I was suffering from an autoimmune condition. During this time, I turned to food to help keep me as healthy and as strong as possible. I believe proper nutrition is one of the key essentials to having a good life. Without good health, little else matters. When our mind, body and soul are nourished, we have a larger capacity to succeed and make a difference in the world.

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