Dads for Daughters

On September 28th, I was honored to speak before 2,400 people at the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s annual luncheon. I was there with my accomplished daughter Caroline, to announce the relaunch of Dads for Daughters, a charitable program that is near and dear to my heart. Dads for Daughters connects supportive dads, granddads, uncles, brothers, and all men together to advance and accelerate economic opportunities for Colorado’s women and their families.

The idea for Dads for Daughters was born in 2009 when I was still serving as a board member for the Women’s Foundation, as well as chairman of the organization’s investment committee. At the time, I was one of only two men on a 25-member board and a few of us thought that starting a community of giving where men could donate in honor of their daughters might entice more men to get involved in the Foundation. If more men became Foundation donors through Dads for Daughters, we reasoned, then that would also potentially spark an interest in men joining the board, because they would want to see first-hand how their money was being allocated.

While we were able to raise $125,000 initially, we were plagued by bad timing.

The financial crisis hit shortly after we launched Dads for Daughters and the board’s focus shifted toward protecting the Foundation’s endowment. My term on the board ended in 2012 and I didn’t think much about Dads for Daughters until I had lunch with the Foundation’s President and CEO Lauren Casteel last year. I suggested reviving the long dormant program, since it made more sense now given Colorado’s strong economy.

Another driving factor for me was Caroline, who since the program was initially launched, had graduated from college, worked six years in the highly competitive world of Hollywood and had started graduate school with the aim of becoming a family therapist. I was really proud of what my daughter had accomplished and wanted to do something in her honor.

The more I talked with the Foundation about Dads for Daughters, the more excited I got about it. I recruited my good friend John Ikard, former CEO and Chairman of FirstBank Holdings and the Foundation drafted Vijay Kotte, Chief Value Officer of DaVita Medical Group to serve as co-leaders of the effort to relaunch the program. The Foundation’s annual luncheon was our official coming out party and I am proud to say that we’ve already raised $115,000.

If we could reach at least a million in funding over the next couple of years, that would allow us to dedicate approximately $50,000 a year to support Dads for Daughters long term. To build a strong community around this effort, I envision hosting annual gatherings where donors’ daughters and the leadership of the Foundation could network and potentially share ideas for specific causes that need support. This would also allow us to get our daughters involved on the ground floor and teach them about philanthropy.

I think men really have an obligation to step it up and do a much better job when it comes to supporting women. Hopefully, Dads for Daughters can serve as a positive example and help women in Colorado reach their full potential.

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