Home‎ > ‎

Foundation History

Ralph and Eileen Swett were both born and raised in the same rural community in Western Illinois.  As adults, they met, fell in love, and married in the late 1950s.  Shortly thereafter, the couple moved to Southern California, where they raised four children.  In 1986, the couple moved to Austin, Texas, where they remain today.

 With the support of Eileen, Ralph pursued a successful career in telecommunications.  During the 1970s, Ralph rose through the ranks at Times Mirror to become head of its cable television subsidiary.  Under his leadership, Times Mirror Cable expanded rapidly, becoming one of the top ten cable system operators in the nation.  In 1986, Ralph struck out on his own, successfully engineering a leveraged buyout of CTI, a regional microwave transmission company.  CTI was a predecessor to IXC Communications, Inc., which Ralph founded in the early 1990s.

 With Ralph at its helm, IXC financed and built a national fiber optic network (the first coast-to-coast network built in the US in over a decade and the first utilizing next-generation fiber).  Rapid growth in internet traffic fueled demand for capacity on IXC's new network, enabling IXC to capture wholesale business from the likes of AT&T, MCI and Worldcom, as well as from smaller telecom players and rivals such as Level 3 and Qwest.  After seeing IXC through almost a decade of rapid growth, Ralph retired in 1999 (IXC later merged with Cincinnati Bell to form Broadwing Communications).  In keeping with their lifelong desire to give back to those less fortunate, Ralph and Eileen created a private foundation in 1999.  The foundation bears their name at the insistence of their four children, who serve as trustees.