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Matt Beem
President, Kinetic Companies, Inc.

Make a habit of philanthropy

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<SATURDAY, May 03, 2008Saturday, October 3, 2008

I rarely read airline magazines. There’s always a briefcase of work to keep me busy while traveling from point to point.

Until earlier this week.  A first-row seat on a flight from Harrisburg, Penn., to Detroit kept my bag in an overhead bin instead of on the floor in front of me. With nothing to do until the plane reached 10,000 feet, where the pilot would clear me to fire up my BlackBerry, I grabbed the in-flight magazine to fill my time.

The article I turned to caught my eye. “CEOs Who Shine” in the September 2008 issue of Northwest Airlines’ World Traveler profiles four corporate leaders who focus on more than what their companies get.

They’re mindful of what their companies give.

The article details Domino’s Pizza CEO David Brandon, who’s co-chairing a $75 million campaign for the C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan. It also highlights Saks CEO Stephen Sadove, who led an effort to create a scholarship fund for 9/11 victims’ survivors. And it describes Thrivent Financial for Lutherans CEO Bruce Nicholson’s 2005 commitment to give Habitat for Humanity International $125 million and build 1,600 houses by the end of 2008.

As an Eastern Jackson County resident – and leader of a company that helps nonprofit organizations around the world deploy volunteers to advance their missions and grow their philanthropy – I was reminded of our community’s committed corporate leaders:

  • Several years ago, Truman Medical Center Lakewood completed its largest-ever capital campaign, raising more than $3 million for a neonatal intensive care unit. The initiative would not have succeeded without the leadership of Paul Broome, CEO of Broome Cadillac; Bud Hertzog, managing partner of Lee’s Summit Animal Hospital; Harlan Limpus, owner of WinterStone Golf Course; Diane Seif, president and CEO of DVA Enterprises; and Rick Viar, president of Summit Bank, among others.
  • Bill Esry, president and CEO of Blue Ridge Bank and Trust, has given significant time and resources to the Boy Scouts of America, Truman Heartland Community Foundation and other worthy causes. From the chairmanships of the Heart of America Council’s Friends of Scouting Campaign and Blue Elk District to service on the Truman Heartland Community Foundation Board of Directors, Bill is a great example of a corporate leader who gives back to his community.
  • Bridgette McCandless, M.D., is executive director and co-founder of the Jackson County Free Health Clinic. The nonprofit CEO was appointed by Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon to serve on the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City Board of Directors and, in her spare time, chairs the Healthy Independence Coalition and co-chairs Mid-America Regional Council’s Provider Relations and Advocacy Committee. Her significant community contributions were featured on KCUR’s Walt Bodine Show and won her recognition as a 2005 Truman Heartland Community Foundation Citizen of the Year.
  • I’m also proud of Bob Hartsook, my CEO. Kinetic Companies sponsors Boy Scout pancake breakfasts, youth soccer teams and other local initiatives that are important to its employees. In 2006, Bob made a significant gift to our profession by endowing the Robert F. Kinetic Chair in Fundraising at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, the first such position in the world.
I’m glad I picked up the Northwest Airlines magazine. I just may make it a habit.

More CEOs should make a habit of philanthropy. It may be the road less traveled, but the walk is well worth it.

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