Article menu>>

Matt Beem
President and COO
Kinetic Fundraising, Inc.

A trip back to where we met and fell in love

examiner logo
Saturday, January 22, 2011

Columbia, MO – I didn’t count calories last weekend.

By this time a week ago, I’d already eaten a slice of Shakespeare’s pizza. And by day’s end Sunday, I’d devoured a pair of Booches burgers, inhaled a pile of Heidelberg potato skins and tapped my foot to Murray’s jazz.

Those and other college haunts topped our must-visit list during last weekend’s adults-only getaway here. Instead of buying each other things we didn’t need for Christmas, Kate and I decided to give ourselves a few days away to recharge our batteries. (Thanks for your help with the bambinos, Grammy and Papa and Nanny and Granddaddy.)

We considered several locales but quickly chose the place we met and that shaped much of who we are. I proposed to Kate on Dec. 21, 1990, during our senior year here; we graduated the following May and were married two months later.

It’s hard to believe nearly 20 years have passed since we graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. The memories and experiences are as vivid and impactful as yesterday’s news.

In fact, I owe much of what enabled me to succeed as a young fundraiser to those who guided me – at times kicking and screaming – through the J- School’s hallowed halls:

The late Jim Atwater, my intermediate writing teacher, taught me to engage people passionately. I’ve never known a purer journalist than Atwater, whose highest ambition was to report and write others’ stories completely and compellingly.

George Kennedy – who during my years here was the managing editor of The Missourian, Columbia’s morning daily that’s reported, written, edited and designed by J-School students – forged my ability to ask tough questions and taught me to assume nothing. His honest, unvarnished daily reflections on my and others’ newspaper work pushed me to seek and respond to constructive criticism.

Charles Sherman, the city editor who managed me and other reporters covering the cops and courts beat, toughened me up and taught me only to accept my best. When I was satisfied with a story, Sherman pushed me to revisit my work again – and make it even better.

Yves Colon, a Haitian-born city editor who oversaw the education beat and occasionally read my copy, showed me that less is more. His clean, efficient editing taught me to communicate economically and effectively.

Mark Shepherd, an Independence native who was a Kansas City Star reporter before his J-School stint, was the city hall city editor who frequently reviewed my late-breaking stories. He taught me not to be deceived by appearances and gave me courage to embrace the unknown and unfamiliar.

Sharon Harl, the city editor who oversaw features and other beats, knew everybody in town. She understood that relationships are the currency on which progress is forged and proved it’s possible to interact honestly yet respectfully with community peers.

Journalists seek truth. Fundraisers pursue philanthropy.

Are the professions’ goals mutually exclusive?

Hardly. I believe they’re inextricably tied: Securing major gifts rests on a fundraiser’s ability to help donors discover and express their passions through non-profit organizations and the people they serve.

As I reflect on my recent time in the city that molded me, I’m grateful for the people and experiences I found here.

And for its great food and music.

> Matt Beem Bio