By Caroline Preston
Maurice Lim Miller leads an antipoverty group that has never applied for support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. So the phone call he received a few weeks ago from MacArthur’s president, Robert Gallucci, was anything but expected.
“The first thing he asked me was, ’Are you alone?’” recalls Mr. Lim Miller, who was indeed alone, sitting at a desk in his Oakland, Calif., home.
“I thought it was a strange question. But he’s the president of the foundation. He can ask whatever he wants.”
When Mr. Gallucci revealed his top-secret news—that Mr. Lim Miller was one of 23 recipients this year of the foundation’s $500,0000 no-strings-attached fellowships, known as the “genius” grants—the social-service leader says he started laughing.