These eloquent words about the power of giving are from Kristi Benningsdorf, who became the new chair of the foundation’s board of directors on July 1. Benningsdorf succeeds Yvonne Myers, whose term ended on June 30. Myers will remain on the board as the immediate past chair.
Benningsdorf, a long-time northern Colorado resident, is the private banking manager at Great Western Bank in Fort Collins. She joined the foundation board six years ago. In this Q&A, Benningsdorf, who has an extensive history of service to our community, shares what inspires her to serve.
Q: Would you tell us a little about your background?
A: I was raised in Fort Morgan, Colorado, by two of the most gracious, humble and loving parents. I am the youngest of three daughters. I graduated with a finance degree from the University of Northern Colorado and have been in the banking/wealth management industry for 38 years. My husband is a retired high school administrator. We have a son and daughter, both married, and three beautiful grandchildren.
I have served on various boards and at community organizations over the past 30 years: past president and secretary of the Yuma and the Windsor Chamber of Commerce boards; past member of the Weld County American Cancer Society board; long-time Windsor Rotarian, including past president/secretary. Most recently, I spent nine years on the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery board as a member and past president.
Q: How do you see philanthropy as playing a role in enhancing patient care and health care in general?
A: If you’ve ever donated to your local hospital, you’re in good company. Philanthropic support of hospitals dates all the way back to Benjamin Franklin, considered by many as the father of modern philanthropic models. Today, philanthropic dollars continue to impact health care. This support is critically important as hospitals seek to establish or enhance new patient services or fund capital projects to provide lifesaving care.
Many donors are philanthropically motivated because they know the hospital is an important asset that helps build a stronger, healthier community. Still others make a gift to show gratitude for the care they or a loved one received.
Our current health care system would be a far different place without philanthropic support. Even in these challenging times, we are witnessing a larger number of philanthropic friends making gifts based on the fundamental reason people give—to make a difference and ensure the best health care is available close to home. Philanthropy elevates a life of success to a life of significance.
Q: Looking back on your six years of serving on the board, which accomplishments of the foundation are you proudest of?
A: When I was asked to join the board, the capital campaign for the new cancer center on the Harmony Campus was just getting underway. My father passed way from cancer at the young age of 57. Looking back at my family’s journey through my father’s cancer 24 years ago, having a world-class cancer center and the available resources that we have today could very well have given my father a better quality of life. Working with the foundation’s board members, community members and UCHealth leaders to help bring the cancer center vision to fruition is one of many accomplishments I am proud to have been part of.
Another endeavor I’m proud of is being part of Women Investing in Strategies for Health (WISH). WISH, a program of UCHealth Northern Colorado Foundation, is a giving circle that provides financial awards to UCHealth programs, partnerships and services in Larimer and Weld counties. WISH has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to support and enhance the health of our community.
WISH membership is open to anyone interested in supporting the health and health care services of our community. I encourage everyone reading this to consider becoming a WISH member. Join me in engaged and effective giving for a healthier community!
Q: Is there a particular philanthropic cause that is close to your heart?
A: A few years ago, I decided to designate UCHealth Northern Colorado Foundation as the beneficiary of my IRA. This was an easy decision, with a lot of sentiment behind it. With my father passing away from cancer, I have a huge place in my heart for our wonderful cancer center on the UCHealth Harmony Campus, and that’s where these funds will go.
My father’s legacy is prominent in Fort Morgan, Colorado, as well as with many of his clients, friends and family all over the planet. Designating the cancer center as the beneficiary of my IRA helps me leave a legacy and show how much I loved my father. It also demonstrates how passionate I am about helping families as they navigate the cancer journey.
The procedure to make a planned gift and designate the foundation as the beneficiary of my IRA was simple. I contacted the agency that holds my IRA and asked to add “UCHealth Northern Colorado Foundation, c/o Cancer Center,” as the sole beneficiary. No attorney, no will, and no formal documentation. All that was required of me was a signature. This legacy has given me a feeling of tremendous gratitude and sheer joy.