Profile: Jack and the Polar Bear
Who: Jack Shakely, former president of California Community Foundation, which gives grants to nonprofit organizations that help people in need lead healthy, independent lives and supports programs that improve local communities.
Grew up in: Oklahoma and Texas.
Education: Graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism. Spent some time at the Oklahoma City University School of Law, then joined the Peace Corps.
Role models/heroes: “My primary role model was my grandfather, Ed Gaston, a country newspaper editor in Oklahoma. He introduced me to “The Power of One” [by Bryce Courtenay]. The hero of my youth was John F. Kennedy, whose reputation is tarnished today but who shown brightly and irresistibly to a young Oklahoman with dreams.”
Why fundraising: “As most people, I sort of fell into fundraising. With my journalism background, I would go to work for a nonprofit in communications, then be asked to write a fundraising letter, then a fundraising brochure, and next thing I knew I was director of development. It became an accidental career, but one I wouldn’t trade with anyone.”
First job in fundraising: As a volunteer, raising money to bring a polar bear to the Oklahoma City Zoo. “I raised more money than any other student, and when the polar bear arrived, I was hooked for life. My first paying fundraising job was head of the alumni fund at the University of Oklahoma. It was a wonderful experience for a young man, meeting captains of industry all over the world.”
Current work: “After 25 years as president of the California Community Foundation, I semi-retired in January 2004. I currently serve on five nonprofit boards and am involved in fundraising in each of them. In my years with the Community Foundation, we brought in total assets of just under a billion dollars, through outright gifts, gift annuities and remainder trusts. I currently serve on the board of the Desert Community Foundation in Palm Springs, Calif., and as a consultant in business development to that community foundation.”