Foundation Background & Trustees


The Nicholson Foundation was established by Marion G. and William B. Nicholson. It became active in 2002, in part because of a bequest to the Foundation from their daughter Martha Leigh. The Foundation’s geographic focus reflects the Nicholsons’ special interest in New Jersey, where they lived for more than 60 years.

Marion Nicholson, who died in 2013, was the elder daughter of Errett M. Grable, co-founder of Rubbermaid, Inc. In 1976, her mother, Minnie K. Grable, established The Grable Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth in Southwestern Pennsylvania. William Nicholson, who died in 2006, was vice chairman of the Union Carbide Corporation and was active in the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts after his retirement.


The Foundation is currently led by a three-member Board of Trustees: Jan Nicholson and Barbara Nicholson McFadyen—the daughters of William and Marion Nicholson—and Michael P. Vito.

JAN NICHOLSON is President of The Nicholson Foundation. She is also President of The Grable Foundation, which is dedicated to improving educational opportunities for children and youth in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  She spent her career in finance, primarily at Citicorp. She was a director of Rubbermaid Inc. from 1992 to 1999, of the Ball Corporation from 1994 until 2015, and of Radian Group Inc. from 2003 to 2015. She serves on the board of the Public Media Company, which works with public radio and TV stations nationwide to achieve greater community impact, and served on the board of MDRC, a social policy research organization, for 18 years.  

BARBARA MCFADYEN is Chairman of The Nicholson Foundation. A metalsmith and enamelist, McFadyen is a jewlery artist who exhibits nationally. She teaches at the university level and has conducted workshops nationally and in Japan. She is on the boards of The Grable Foundation, the Penland School of Crafts, and The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina. Her philanthropic interests include arts organizations and arts in education.

MICHAEL VITO is a partner at Lowenstein Sandler LLP whose expertise includes trust & estate law. He lends his expertise to private foundations, often serving as general counsel to provide advice on excise taxes, grantmaking procedures and agreements, and non-profit governance.