The Business of Ethics
With more than $1 billion given in scholarships and 380,000 students reached by the Daniels Fund ethics program, it’s safe to say that the organization’s President and CEO Linda Childears has experience managing impressive business efforts. Childears brought this experience and insight to join the University of Wyoming MBA Program’s boardroom on September 14, 2018, speaking to MBA students about the operations of private and public businesses, how foundations operate, what it’s like to be an executive, and the processes behind developing strategies for an organization like Daniels Fund.
Linda first met Bill Daniels when he hired her company, The Financial Consortium, to help overcome the unprecedented operational, legal, and regulatory challenges of opening Young Americans Bank, his bank for children. According to Childears’ presentation September 14th, there were 16 total regulations and hurdles to overcome to start, but by the time of the bank's grand opening in August 1987, Linda had accepted Bill's offer to become its President & CEO. She joined Daniels Fund, being named a trustee of Daniels’ estate and a member of the original Daniels Fund Board of Directors in 2005.
Today, Daniels Fund serves Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, providing grants, a generous scholarship program, and investments to the region–all honoring the ethics initiative the organization was founded upon:
“One thing that Bill was best known for was his reputation for integrity,” Childears explained in her presentation to UW MBA students, “He would shake hands on a $1 million deal, and it was as good as gold.”
In addition to discussing the history of Daniels Fund and its continued efforts to fulfill the intent and direction of its founder, Childears shared with MBA students how she and the other Daniels Fund Board members develop strategies for the foundation.
“Too many non-profits don’t operate like a business, which is a big mistake,” she stated.
Linda explained how each state in the Daniels Fund region has its own strategy, whether it involves focusing on career educational experience to decrease poverty, maintaining donor intent, targeting addiction, or providing funding across the board. She discussed the benefits and challenges of working as the member of a Board of Directors, encouraging the MBA students in attendance to take advantage of board membership opportunities whenever and wherever possible.
Childears brought her knowledge and experience from Daniels Fund and past endeavors as part of the University of Wyoming MBA Program’s Executive Speaker Series, hosting industry leaders who provide students with insight on valuable experiences, share their business wisdom, and help students build a strong network of individuals who open the door to many employment and mentorship opportunities. The series is just one of many highlights from the program’s focus on Experiential Learning, providing students with a number of experiential opportunities outside of the traditional classroom setting:
“We find it crucial for our graduates to become immediate contributors to the organizations they join when they successfully graduate from our program,” states the MBA program’s website, “We provide students with unique experiences in order to ensure them an understanding of how business is truly conducted and under what kind of circumstances decisions have to be made.”