About the Foundation

The Lois Roth Foundation honors the life and work of Lois Wersba Roth. Since 1987, it has sought to promote and encourage dialogue across national, linguistic and cultural boundaries, with an emphasis on the humanities, arts and social sciences. Foundation programs are conducted in collaboration with a range of partners and focused on three domains: Fulbright & Academic Collaborations, Cultural Diplomacy,  and Literature & Translation.

Our History

Lois Roth’s untimely death of breast cancer in early 1986,was met by an outpouring of love, personal and professional admiration and grief, all in stark evidence at her memorial service at Washington’s Kennedy Center. Spearheaded by her husband, cultural diplomat Richard T. Arndt, the idea for the Foundation soon brought together friends and family to contribute funds and create programs that would carry Lois’ memory, values and work forward in time.

Dick Arndt overlooking the Durance Valley in the Alpes de Haute Provence, a part of France that Lois loved.

The first award instituted was a scholarship for an American Fulbrighter working in Sweden; a substantial bequest from Anne O. Thomson—a long-time friend whom Lois considered her Swedish mother—soon helped extend this program, establishing two annual Roth-Thomson Awards each for Fulbrighters in Finland and Sweden. The Foundation’s first translation award—for a translation of American literature into French, the Prix Coindreau—brought to fruition an idea first discussed at a lunch hosted by Lois and Dick Arndt, when they were stationed in Paris in 1980. Two bequests helped further Foundation programs: Mim Johnston Hallock’s living bequest she has made in memory of her husband, Richard; and Faye Cousens Carroll’s bequest in memory of her husband, Martin C. Carroll Jr., which provided funding for an American Fulbrighter in Australia. A major gift from author Elizabeth Kostova strengthened our program for Literature and Translation by establishing the Dyankov Translation Award and Sozopol Fiction Seminar. We are grateful for the able stewardship of our funds by Shawn O’Reilly and Emily Ferry at RBC’s Columbia Group.

For many years, the Foundation relied on the efforts of Dick Arndt, its Founding Chair, and a small Board of Directors made up friends of Lois, including luminaries such as Evelyn Swarthout Hayes and Drs. Steven Muller, Hank Millon and Robin Winks. As projects multiplied and holdings rose, new members were added to the board starting in the mid-1990s. From 2008-14, the Board underwent an increasing number of changes, including the addition of younger members and the able two-year tenure of Jill E. McGovern as Chair in 2011-12. In 2014, Skyler J. Arndt-Briggs—Dick’s daughter and Lois’ stepdaughter—took over as Chair. Since then, the Foundation has moved to a volunteer-board model and both expanded and consolidated operations and programs; in celebration of its thirty-fifth anniversary in 2022, the Foundation is launching a new website and returning to its roots by expanding its Fulbright and academic collaborations.

Do you share our vision of cross-cultural dialogue?

Donations to the Endowment, large and small, help to keep this project growing in reach and impact.