Listen and You Will Learn
It's amazing how much you can learn by listening to others. I recently had a wonderful experience at a luncheon meeting. I invited a philanthropist to join me for lunch, and all I did was ask questions and listen. I didn't have an agenda or end game in mind. I just wanted to ask questions to someone special and learn how someone with such rich experiences has been promoting philanthropy for so many years.
Lorene Burkhart is a noted author who often speaks throughout the state of Indiana. Her business career spans more than 40 years, and along the way she broke not only the glass ceiling but also traditional barriers for women as the first female executive in all her jobs.
Her background includes being a teacher, broadcaster, writer/publisher, and marketing and public relations executive. She has written seven books — three for children and four for adults.
My reason for asking Lorene to lunch was to talk to her about writing a book. I quickly realized that it was more important to use our time together as a springboard to understanding how she had had a successful business career and is also a passionate philanthropist.
Lorene grew up on a farm in southern Indiana where each family member was a part of the family business of farming. Lorene's responsibilities included being her mother's assistant for cooking, canning and other household chores. She also fed the chickens and gathered the eggs. Her three brothers drove the tractors, planted, and learned to manage a farm. Lorene's father was often away working in agriculture organizations both statewide and nationally. His last position was under the Secretary of Agriculture during the Truman administration.
Life on the farm would have been lonely during the summer if not for 4-H. Beginning at age 10, girls learned skills such as sewing, cooking, etc., while the boys had their animal projects. During her eight years as a 4-H member, Lorene also learned a variety of leadership skills as well as public speaking — and most importantly, how to win and lose.
Many of these skills have been put into practice for the 40 boards she has served. The boards range from arts and culture to Meals on Wheels, Girls Inc., The Women's Fund and involvement with her alma mater, Purdue University, where she has donated more than $1 million to establish the Center for Families. Her many contributions have been rewarded with numerous recognitions that include honorary doctorates from Purdue and University of Indianapolis, as well as an honorary associate degree from Ivy Tech.
Lorene also has endured some tough times, and she writes about them in her book "Bootstraps, How Women Pull Themselves Up In Tough Times." She is truly a pioneer, and she showed me how someone with class, values and strength can survive and thrive in this turbulent world.
The point I am trying to make is simple: When you meet someone who is a high achiever and a well-known philanthropist, let her do the talking. Give yourself the opportunity to absorb the experience, and then walk away feeling honored to have shared this experience with someone who truly pays it forward.
F. Duke Haddad is currently associate director of development, director of campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC in Fishers, Indiana.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 12 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.