Transcript: Bringing a Dream to Life

Karen McNeil-Miller, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, 2005–2015. (Dr. Laura Gerald was announced as the trust's new president in May 2016):

Change is hard for humans. Humans love predictability, but change is particularly hard when you're talking about something as deeply ingrained as poverty. And so to change a generation of humans takes time because it's not a simple fix. And I've seen firsthand the impossible choices: "Do I take the job that's right down the street, because I don't have a car, but doesn't pay very much, or do I have to walk three or four miles to the job that pays better? Do I buy my medicine this month or do I pay the electric bill?" And these are daily choices that people make, and so you don't change those kinds of things overnight, and you don't change them alone.

The trust started in 1947, upon the death of Mrs. Kate B. Reynolds. When Mrs. Reynolds died, she left $4 million, which in 1947 was a lot of money. And it was particularly a lot of money for a woman to have.

If you're a woman and wanting to start a foundation, pick what your passion is. Pick what you're interested in seeing change in this world — or in this community — and you can define community as narrowly, as broadly, as you want.

Mrs. Reynolds left the money with two instructions. One, that a quarter of the funds be used to benefit poor and needy, and three-fourths to be used to benefit financially needy for health care across the state. I think one of the biggest changes is we've moved from grant making to focusing on change making. We don't believe Mrs. Reynolds meant for us just to help people survive while they're poor. She meant for us to help people overcome poverty and lift themselves out of poverty, and so that's a huge shift in mindset for us and then a necessary shift in strategy.

Wells Fargo, as sole trustee, serves in the same role that a governing board might be of another kind of foundation. They are the fiduciary agent. They're responsible for the expenditure of all the funds. They're responsible for the hiring of the president. We partner with them to create our strategy, to identify the areas that the trust should make an impact, so they're the keepers of the mission.

Chris Spaugh, Senior Vice President – Philanthropic Strategist, Wells Fargo Wealth Management:
What I love about this work is there's impact beyond the walls of the bank, their impact to lives that are affected. There's a literal change that happens in the communities around us. And even though we're but a small part of that, it really gets to feel like we make a difference every day.