Faces: Community leaders Mark and Brenda Moore on philanthropy and faith

Couple has donated $7.5 million to local causes.

Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper

Brenda and Mark Moore are philanthropists who have donated $7.5 million to community causes, were founding donors for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and were recently honored with the 2017 Community Leadership Award from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.

How did you first get involved as full-time philanthropists?

Brenda: Mark had actually suffered a catastrophic brain injury, and we really felt grateful to Inova Hospital following that because he had been given such wonderful care. Mark and I decided that having been blessed with his ability to have a wonderful opportunity to be wealthy, we would be able to give back and to pay things forward. Our first endeavor was with Inova Hospital.

How did Mark’s strokes in 2007 affect your outlook on life and your trajectory?

Mark: Prior to the strokes, if I looked at my life, it was probably a 70/30 mix—70 percent business and 30 percent personal life. It was not balanced. What happened was I developed a blood deficiency, which caused the two strokes. But other than that, I was in excellent health. The stroke came out of nowhere. It lets you realize that life can change in an instant. So I decided, “I’m going to change myself.” I decided to retire and simply devote [myself] to philanthropy, trying to give back and trying to help others.

What causes are you most passionate about?

Mark: With the Mark and Brenda Moore Family Foundation, we try to focus on four causes: health care, which is near and dear to our hearts. Second, education. The third would be arts and culture, and the fourth we call Christian evangelism. And we feel that if we can support those, we can impact others’ lives as well.

Brenda: When we sought to be involved, we wanted to not only provide monetary resources, but we wanted to be able to be active as far as being advocates as well. It’s not really necessarily about just writing a check.

Tell us about your 2017 book, Stroke of Faith.

Mark: To suffer two strokes and to endure major brain surgery and have to go through two months of rehab; it’s a long, grueling process. But I’ve been blessed with a wonderful recovery. And the book is my attempt to tell people if you’re willing to turn to your faith, whatever that may be, turn to your God, amazing things can happen. Three and a half months after suffering two strokes, I was back to work. And less than a year after, I was running a 5K. When you’re faced with life challenges, emotions will rob you of your faith. You’re in denial, depression, fear. My recovery took off when I turned to my faith.

(January 2018)