September 11, 2020

Six Reflections with Kristi Cumming

World Champion Skier

Board Chair: Park City Community Foundation

What values guide your giving?

For me, it is all about community building. We have to give back to the community in which we live. That is a big part of being a good citizen. My husband, John, is a founder of the Park City Community Foundation (PCCF) and I am the current board chair.  PCCF is the perfect match for our community building focus, as it allows us to make one gift into a consolidated effort that supports all the nonprofits in our local community.

What life experiences have shaped your giving?

My mother was very hands on.  She was my school’s PTA president and led our local cancer society. She supported numerous candidates running for office. My mom set the example of what it means to be involved in your community. 

"There will be expectations based on historic family priorities and outside opinions, but we must hold to what we believe matters most."

When I skied for the U.S. Ski Team, I remember seeing donors at events who were supporting the team. I remember asking myself: “Why are they doing that?”  It meant a lot to me to know they believed in what we were doing. I remember thinking: “If I ever get that opportunity, I want to give back.” 

I also learned how important it is to walk our own giving path. There will be expectations based on historic family priorities and outside opinions, but we must hold to what we believe matters most. I remember asking my mother-in-law, Annette Cumming, how she landed on the causes she supports. Her answer always stuck with me: “Interests always evolve, but your passions will rise to the top.” 

Who is someone you greatly admire in the social sector?

I think my answer has to be two people. First, I would say Katie Wright, Executive Director of PCCF.  She has taken that organization to a whole new level. Her ability to manage the growth in our community and bring a lot of different people together around a common vision is extraordinary.

Second would be Dr. Jane Goodall. Last year, I had the privilege of hosting Dr. Goodall at our home.  She is a beautiful person inside and out, and incredibly tenacious. In her mid 80’s she is still on the road over 300 days a year! She is also a big whiskey aficionado. And yes, she likes High West. 

"Her ability to manage the growth in our community and bring a lot of different people together around a common vision is extraordinary."

Name a local nonprofit doing exceptional work but perhaps off many donor’s radar?

Park City Ski and Snowboard. I am on their board and have a deep connection to snowsports. There is such a benefit for kids who participate in sports, everything from mental health to character building. The Solomon Fund at PCCF also does incredible work helping kids gain access to a sport that they otherwise could not afford. 

Do you give collectively with other donors? If so, why?

Yes. It just makes sense. If you pool your resources together, you can achieve greater impact. Donors are often worried that their resources won’t be used effectively, but we are making progress with that mentality at PCCF. I think our track-record has built trust. 

How do you define “success” with your giving?

If you start off thinking you’re going to be successful in philanthropy, you have the wrong mindset. You are going to make some gifts that aren’t successful. But you can learn from that.

To me, if I helped my community, that is success. I also want to learn something too along the way. I don’t give money away to feel good, I do it because I’m curious and I want to learn more about my community and the organizations working to make it better.

"To me, if I helped my community, that is success."