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Examiner
  • Get to know the new CEO

  • Phil Hanson walked into Kansas City’s Rockhurst University his freshman year, unaware of what career path he desired, just like many college freshmen.

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  • Phil Hanson walked into Kansas City’s Rockhurst University his freshman year, unaware of what career path he desired, just like many college freshmen.
    He laughs in retrospect.
    Four years and one-part time internship later, Hanson knew that nonprofit management and fundraising was for him.
    Hanson, who turns 50 next month, started his latest nonprofit organization role on Monday as the Truman Heartland Community Foundation president and chief executive officer.
    In college, Hanson earned a part-time internship at Kansas City’s Habitat for Humanity and worked closely with the late John F. Pritchard, who founded the Kansas City Habitat chapter and was then the organization’s sole volunteer.
    Hanson also utilized the university’s American Humanics program, which aims to educate students and provide certification to those interested in careers with nonprofit organizations.
    “I always enjoyed working with people, helping people,” Hanson said. “Charity has always been kind of important to me and having an impact on peoples’ lives. I knew I wasn’t in the career path of working for a big corporation somewhere, but I wasn’t quite sure how to apply that.”
    Like most industries, the nonprofit and fundraising worlds have felt the effects of the economic recession. Hanson said he believes the recession has placed a higher focus on basic needs and social services among nonprofit organizations.
    “But I think it’ll bounce back,” Hanson said, “and I think the commitment is still there, though people may be giving at a smaller level. They’re still committed to those organizations and making an impact in the community.”
    In his fundraising career that spans more than 25 years, Hanson said the nonprofit industry now includes more professionalism with higher-education degree programs available in public administration and nonprofit management.
    “I think there’s a better awareness, too, of the role the nonprofit sector plays and how significant it is within our communities,” Hanson said.  
    Raised in Raytown and now residing in Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood, Hanson said the Truman Heartland Community Foundation top executive role appealed to him because of its sense of community and connection to Eastern Jackson County.
    Though he said he enjoyed his previous role, Hanson traveled across six states as the American Lung Association of the Central States’ senior vice president of resource development. (Hanson also served as a senior vice president of development with the United Way of Greater Kansas City from 1983 to 2006.) 
    “It was really missing that active engagement in the community,” he said, “and being able to roll up your sleeves and work with people and figure out how you can solve problems. I think this is an ideal opportunity here. It’s all familiar, but it’s a lot to learn.”
    Page 2 of 2 - In both fundraising positions he’s held, Hanson worked to build relationships with individual and corporate donors – he likens himself as a good listener and someone who “brings people together to build coalitions.”
    “You know that they want to make a difference in the community – you’re starting from that premise,” Hanson said of how he builds such relationships.
    “It’s not all about the money; it’s about their dream and what they want to see happen and what they want to see accomplished. Then, if you can work with them and build that vision and dream, the money part is easy.”
    Hanson replaces former CEO Paul Thomson, who retired in October after 10 years with the foundation – his second career. His first career – in higher education – included 30 years of experience in the Metropolitan Community College system.
    “It doesn’t make me nervous, no,” Hanson said of his predecessor.
    “But big shoes to fill? Yeah. Paul was successful in helping move the organization to where it is today, and we certainly want to build what was done there.”
    Board of directors
    Chairwoman: Vicki Digby, Independence resident
    Vice chairman: Jim Pryde, Lee’s Summit resident
    Secretary: Martha Cockerell, Kansas City resident
    Treasurer: Nancy Kimak, Blue Springs resident
    Immediate past chairwoman: Roberta “Poo” Coker, Independence resident
    The board of directors’ newest member is Joseph Seabrooks, president of the Metropolitan Community College-Blue River campus.
    The staff
    • Liz McClure, director of programs and donor services since 1994
    • Beverly Powell, chief financial officer since 2008 (Powell’s own accounting firm had worked with the foundations since 2003.)
    • Nicole Stevens, director of marketing and communications since 2003
    • The office manager position is now vacant since Nancy Wilhelm retired in December after 15 years of service.
     

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