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Wendy Guillies

An open letter from Wendy Guillies: Working together to fulfill an uncommon legacy

Mr. Kauffman said, “All the money in the world cannot solve problems unless we work together. And, if we work together, there is no problem in the world that can stop us, as we seek to develop people to their highest and best potential.

We work together as associates and trustees of this Foundation to meet that legacy every day.

During the course of the past few years, we have listened first to the communities we serve, tried to understand the problems, and dream big with people around the country to build innovative programs that deliver results. As a result, we have worked to identify challenges and opportunities, and create uncommon solutions in education and entrepreneurship. We seek to eliminate barriers so that all people – regardless of background – can take risks, achieve success and give back to their communities.

We are still in the early stages of implementing our strategic plan, but we are already starting to see the benefits of this community-engagement approach. Admittedly, foundations – ours included – have not always worked with the communities they serve to identify root problems and solutions.

Our work in education and entrepreneurship has been humbling and inspiring. Throughout our journey, we fully recognize that we don’t have all the answers. That’s why we’ve convened many in our communities – from Great Schools Visits to the ESHIP Summit – to help us better define not only solutions but to challenge our very assumptions about whether we are asking the right questions. This takes more time, but, we believe, as Mr. Kauffman did, that by working together we will have better results than taking a top-down approach to community-based issues.

In addition to listening to our communities, we believe that a key to success is ensuring the Foundation leadership has the support necessary to execute on these ideas. Often in nonprofits, governance is a secondary issue, but we know that steady and focused leadership is critical to our ability to achieve our goals.

Strong governance comes through a blend of continuity and growing our board to provide diverse skills and perspectives. In that light, I’d like to highlight our group of trustees who have supported the development of the strategic plan, provide the needed perspective to implement that strategy and the support necessary to maintain focus over the long haul as we work together to solve challenges that were decades in the making.

I want to personally thank the trustees for their commitment – to challenge us every day to do, think and be uncommon… just like Mr. K.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank you for the support and the guidance as we do our work. Our communities – both in Kansas City and beyond – are the backbone of our approach to helping individuals achieve lifelong success.

Although we champion bold ideas to change futures because we believe all people should have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and be uncommon, we are well aware that it will take communities of peers to work together to make these ideas a reality.

I would appreciate it if you’d let us know what you think about some of the big issues facing our communities. Comment on this post, on Twitter or Facebook. Let us know how we can continue to serve our communities.


Wendy Guillies
President & CEO
Kauffman Foundation


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