Board Chair: Community Foundation of Utah

Founder: B-Rad Industries

Retired: CMO Emeritus, The Dresser-Rand Company

What life experiences shaped where, how and why you give? 

At least three things shaped my giving. I grew up in the Midwest, largely outdoors, camping with my family, backpacking in college, hiking our national parks, and just being attracted to our Utah mountain life. All those experiences have me committed to conservation, land preservation and actions I can support in my backyard of Summit County and Utah.

Second, being a frustrated, albeit enthusiastic, athlete throughout my adolescence (apparently, I wasn’t a high achiever in sport,) I find myself supporting organizations like the University of the Utah Crimson Club, U.S. Ski and Snowboard, and a number of other winter Olympics national teams more broadly.  

Finally, my career in energy services for almost 4 decades educated me on the consequences of climate change, which has led me to focus on numerous climate actions and funds as a focus area for my impact investing.

You are highly focused on outcomes in your philanthropy. What contributes to that? 

I believe it’s just bringing learned and successful business principles to my giving and volunteer activity. I started my career as a marketing guy and there was this perception that marketing guys were not process or outcomes-oriented. As I moved into executive leadership positions, I think I was determined to change that perception.

As my career evolved, I really rooted myself in that outcomes mentality.  Figuring out how to implement consistent, replicable and scalable business processes in 150 countries around the world will force you to do that.

In my role working with the CEO and team at the Community Foundation of Utah, we ask ourselves what success really means, and ensure all activities drive real outcomes toward that success. For example, when we look at poverty, measuring how many mouths you feed is really important but it is not an outcome that wins the war on poverty. Ending hunger is.  We like to think we approach challenges with sustainable, replicable and scalable solutions.

Your philanthropy is not only outcomes-oriented, it takes a long-term view. What informed this?

I think we all understand that societal problems cannot be solved overnight. We need to build a foundation that will raise the entire community.

I can relate this to business processes as well. If you want to build a robust business, it takes time. What many people don’t realize is that most sustainable businesses that are perceived as “overnight successes” were actually created over many years. Systemic and sustainable solutions take time.

"I think we all understand that societal problems cannot be solved overnight. We need to build a foundation that will raise the entire community.... Systemic and sustainable solutions take time."

What are your thoughts about funding operations and overhead?  

Unrestricted funding has always been important to any nonprofit organization’s mission, but the recent pandemic has highlighted its criticality.  The pandemic has most every organization shuffling its immediate priorities and having that flexibility of unrestricted funding has been key for many nonprofits to adapt and step up quickly in this time of need.  It's people that drive outcomes and, for the most part, nonprofit staff are closest to understanding the problem and providing real solutions, so providing organizations unrestricted funding really allows them the best chance of doing that.

Do you utilize impact investing as part of your philanthropic strategy?

I am so glad you asked!  I believe philanthropy should be highly intentional and action oriented. Impact investing is core to my philanthropic portfolio.  There are many challenges in the world, like decarbonizing our society, where entrepreneurs and their ideas, the innovation they can bring and technology that they can build, can often provide the sustainable, replicable and scalable solutions that can help us reduce the impact of climate change. Impact investing is seen as bringing real social return-on-investment to some of society's most difficult challenges. 

Impact investing is a new addition to my philanthropy over the last 5-7 years. Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) are an integral part of my philanthropic strategy, including one DAF at the Community Foundation of Utah.  This DAF is geared toward helping early stage social entrepreneurs de-risk their company and associated solutions. In other words, I am using tax advantaged dollars to invest in early stage social enterprises that may not otherwise get funding as it's seen as too early, too risky, or not seen as an outsized financial return. With the DAF, financial return is secondary to the compelling social purpose, but if the investment does provide a financial return, it goes back to the DAF, and we get to do it all over again! I really believe DAFs used in this manner can help facilitate the success of more social entrepreneurs, de-risk their mission, and bring more innovation to society's problems.

"I believe philanthropy should be highly intentional and action oriented."

Could you share a local nonprofit or social venture doing exceptional work that is perhaps off many donor’s radar?

There are so many social ventures doing great things across Utah!  If I think beyond those serving the Wasatch front or back, Switchpoint Community Resource Center in St. George comes to mind. It has an outcomes oriented leader in Carol Hollowell and they are providing innovative and practical solutions towards addressing homelessness. This year, they are helping replicate their model in Tooele.

I’m also super excited about the work of the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah.  I have the privilege of participating in the student run University Venture Fund II. The students are amazing, Jim Sorenson is the ultimate mentor in impact investing and the fund itself is led by Jeramy Lund, to whom I have learned so much and have enormous respect.

Published in Six Reflections

Board Member: Janet Q. Lawson Foundation 

What life experiences shaped where, how and why you give? 

I come from a long line of philanthropists. My world-view is shaped by those who came before me and how they chose to interact with their communities. These views have become enhanced through the experiences of my own life. 

When I was 19, I interned at The Nature Conservancy’s newly opened Moab Project Office. This experience marked a huge turning point in my life. I went down there to do whatever needed to be done - digging ditches, dismantling beaver dams, and learning to manage an organic peach orchard. And while I was there,  I learned how incredibly fragile ecosystems are, and how we all play a part in the actions and reactions that affect our world. 

When I arrived in Moab, I felt a disgruntled, unempowered youth. But by the end, I learned to reframe the conversation and recognize that I not only had the capacity to implement change myself but also that I had a civic obligation to do so.  Ever since, I have come to believe that you have to get in the middle of things and get dirty to encourage systemic change. 

Forge ahead; everything counts.

"I have come to believe that you have to get in the middle of things and get dirty to implement systemic change."

Who do you admire most in philanthropy?

This is a hard question to answer! I have great admiration for everyone we work with through the Foundations I serve on.  

I would have to say my family both past and present. They set the bar so high, especially the women. They were often ahead of their time and leaned into the communities that lacked a voice. My Aunt Em started the first Kindergarten in Utah!  I look to how those women led in their communities for my own inspiration.

What book or other educational resource would you recommend to donors wanting to dive deeper into philanthropy?

Well as a mom of 2, time is scarce! But 21/64 is a great resource to think about philanthropy from a different lens and get to the root of why you give. Your financial manager can also serve as a great resource. And Utah Grantmakers Alliance is an excellent resource to engage with peers. Every Foundation and Donor Advised Fund is unique, and we can never listen to too many perspectives.

Do you believe there is a high enough tolerance for risk in philanthropy?   

I can only speak to my own experience, and not for the discipline as a whole. I will say that through one of our Foundations we have supported a number of pilot programs, all of which have been largely successful. We work in a hyper-relational way and invest in people and their ideas. 

If we have a long-term relationship with a nonprofit leader with a track-record of success, and they propose a new idea, we will likely go with them on that journey. Why? Because we believe in that leader and that organization. 

If we don’t have that relationship, taking on risk is difficult. Our existing relationships need so much support as it is, and we have historical investments that require that support.

"Why? Because we believe in that leader and that organization."

Do you ever give collectively with other donors?

I serve on the board of several family foundations, and we often cross-collaborate, especially when there is crossover between interest areas and/or applicants have larger funding asks. This can be an effective way to deploy larger-scale funding when needed.

How do you define success when it comes to your giving? 

Success is often in the eye of the beholder. I think everyone defines success a bit differently. Regarding the Foundations I help to steward, even though we focus a lot on deliverables and metrics, we operate via a very hyper-relational experience.  

Personally, I love it when success goes beyond the specific deliverables and the project spins into something bigger and helps an organization get to the next level. I love when something very small affects the organization more broadly and they can leverage a small investment to get to the next stage. 

"I love when something very small affects the organization more broadly and they can leverage a small investment to get to the next stage."
Published in Six Reflections

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."
Published in Six Reflections