For Marlene and Morris Price, a commitment to philanthropy was instilled in them from a young age – though that’s not always what they called it. “We grew up in a military family, so service was always a part of our life. We went to church regularly, our parents were involved in community organizations and we both participated in Scouts,” says Morris. “It was a subtle way of living your life.”
Growing up as twins in a tight-knit household, Marlene and Morris had different career aspirations but always found balance in one another. Morris has spent much of his professional life in higher education and private philanthropy, first at The Daniels Fund, then Gill Foundation and currently as vice president of grants and impact for the Colorado Trust.
Morris also currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Rose Community Foundation. He was first introduced to the Foundation when he was asked to join the Aging committee, and the issues became more personal when his father was diagnosed with leukemia. “In the committee meetings, we were discussing supports for older adults and their caregivers, and at the same time I was trying to secure services for my dad,” says Morris. “The staff at Rose helped connect me with organizations that could help us. I realized that these issues aren’t theoretical, they are very personal.” Nonprofit board service became a passion for Morris, a way that he could put his skills to work for the benefit of organizations.
The Price family moved around the country when Marlene and Morris were young, ultimately settling in Denver for their high school and college years. Marlene leveraged her science and engineering expertise to a career in aerospace, recently retiring from a 38-year tenure with the Boeing Company that took her all over the world. When she was contemplating where to settle after retirement, Denver drew her back in. “Denver is a large enough city where you can make a difference, but it still has a very inclusive, close-knit community,” says Marlene. “Giving of your time is so appreciated in this city.”
As a Black woman in a male-dominated industry, Marlene knows the importance of inclusion and representation. “I used to walk into rooms of 1,000 people and see two people that look like me,” she says. “I want to help ensure that the next generation is more fairly represented. People opened doors for me, and it’s important that I pay it forward.” In 2022, Marlene joined Rose Women’s Circle, a giving circle at Rose Community Foundation for women across the Greater Denver region who seek to take their philanthropy to the next level through collaborative giving. “Rose Women’s Circle is so in tune with how we were brought up. It’s another way that I can give back.”
The next venture for the siblings is opening a donor-advised fund at Rose Community Foundation where they can collaborate on their charitable giving. Much of what guides their philanthropy is a focus on advancing equity and creating opportunity for others. Both siblings credit their parents, older sister and extended network of friends and family with fiercely supporting them and helping to open doors – something that they hope to pass on to future generations. “For us, equity is something we always think about,” says Morris. “We must help create a world that allows people to rise. Our voices are a powerful tool for change, and the foundation of all that change is philanthropy.”
Adds Marlene, “as a scientist at my core, I think about how much further we could be as a society if we allowed people to contribute everything they have to offer. We can’t limit people by assuming that they can’t, or won’t – or even worse, shouldn’t – be able to do something. We could go so much further if we celebrated one another.”
The Price siblings recently honored their late parents’ legacy by collaborating on the Morris & Joyce Price Art Bank at RedLine Contemporary Art Center. The bank is an art materials resource for RedLine’s community outreach programs and helps to ensure that students have the supplies they need on the first day of art class. In 2023, Marlene and Morris hosted a fundraiser for the art bank on their parents’ wedding anniversary, and the room was filled with family, neighbors and friends from across their years in Denver. For the siblings, it served as a fitting tribute to parents who instilled in them the principles of service, community, and philanthropy, both in grand gestures and everyday acts of kindness. Says Morris, “people give because of who, not the what. The what comes later. If you care about something, I’ll care about it too.”
Marlene and Morris hope that others take to heart the idea that anyone can give and anyone can be of service. “Philanthropy, advocacy, politics – don’t let the words get in your way,” says Morris. “Find an issue you truly care about, and it will lead to something else. People will see your passion and they will connect you with opportunities.”
Marlene echoes the sentiment that small gifts can have a big impact. “Giving twenty minutes of your time and talent to a nonprofit can help that organization immensely. Maybe you are good at helping people organize – many groups can benefit from that expertise. Apply your passions and it will take you where you need to go.”
Reflecting on their accomplished careers marked by personal achievements, the siblings are grateful for the opportunity to live in the same city and collaborate on philanthropic ventures, leveraging their individual strengths to make a difference. For Morris, he appreciates that Marlene brings structure and balance to their partnership. And Marlene values Morris’ passion and ability to connect with people.
“When we were younger, I didn’t like it when people called me Marlene – Morris’ twin – Price,” says Marlene. “Now, I’m proud that people in Denver recognize me as Morris’ twin. It’s a gift to do this work together.”