Jerri L. Hammer MS’97 is used to advising others on the best ways to plan for their estates. As a tax partner with Armanino — the Dallas-based public accounting firm — Hammer works with high net worth individuals to manage their tax liability through estate planning, gifts and trusts.
When it came time for Hammer and her husband, David Pomberg, to make plans of their own, the couple looked to UT Dallas to find an affordable way to make a difference now and in the future.
The impactful research performed at the University, combined with UT Dallas’ flexible planned giving options, have allowed Hammer and Pomberg to support a cause close to their hearts during their lifetimes while leaving a legacy that will last for generations.
“Neither my husband nor I come from wealthy families,” Hammer said. “We would have loved to give $1 million or even $100,000, but we didn’t have it at the time.”
After speaking with Anna LeBlanc, director of gift planning at UT Dallas, the couple established the Pomberg and Hammer Opportunity Fund at the Center for Vital Longevity through a recurring gift automatically deducted from Hammer’s bank account each month.
Establishing their gift was simple.
“I asked my bank if they could do a monthly transfer. They said, ‘yes,’ and UT Dallas was on board,” Hammer said. “It was really easy — just a single piece of paper. The great thing about it is I don’t have to do anything on an ongoing basis; it just happens.”
Since 2013, the couple’s opportunity fund has grown in value with each installment, generating an ever-greater benefit for the center’s research.
“I’ve seen people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease who are in good physical health but struggling mentally,” Hammer said. “It’s so heartbreaking, and I knew that the Center for Vital Longevity is doing research to keep the brain healthy and fight these diseases. That really pulled me in.”
Even though the couple’s contributions are small, over time they will make a big difference.
“It’s a very modest amount,” Hammer said. “But when I look at how long we’ve been doing it and how long we will continue to do it, we will have been able to make a very significant gift in a painless way over time.”
In conjunction with their recurring gift, Hammer and Pomberg have also made plans in their wills to establish a professorship at the Center for Vital Longevity.
“We couldn’t make a big gift up front, but we could certainly leave something in our will coupled with our ongoing contribution,” Hammer said. “It was a way we could make an impact.”
Hammer is a UT Dallas alumna herself, having earned a master’s in accounting from the Naveen Jindal School of Management after earning her bachelor’s degree and JD from UT Austin. Her experience at UT Dallas kept the University at the forefront of her mind when planning her charitable contributions.
“I had a fantastic experience getting my master’s at UTD,” Hammer explained. “All of the accounting teachers were wonderful. They were friends, advisors and cheerleaders for me. I developed really close connections, so when my husband and I started talking about organizations to support, I immediately thought of UTD because I had such warm, fuzzy feelings.”
Hammer also supports UT Dallas through the gift of her time. She serves on the University’s Executive Board and Gift Planning Advisory Council. In both her professional and volunteer roles, she encourages individuals to find methods of giving that suit their needs.
“I would encourage people to explore all the different ways of giving and to ask questions,” Hammer said. “I wasn’t told about doing a monthly withdrawal, but when I asked, UT Dallas was able to accommodate me. UT Dallas will develop a plan just for you, for your own personal giving.”