Building a Strong Foundation of Philanthropy
Barbara Grogan knows about building foundations. She spent over 22 years growing Western Industrial Contractors as the Founder and CEO. She has served on the Board of Trustees for The Denver Foundation for the past 5 years, as well as the boards of the University of Colorado Foundation and the Denver Scholarship Foundation ias well as countless others appointments. Through her dedication, Barbara has helped each organization to grow strategically in order to meet the needs of the community. Yet, if you were to ask Barbara, she would say that of all of her accomplishments, the philanthropic foundation that she has laid for her family is the one that she is most proud of!
In the early 1980s, Barbara found herself a divorced mom with two kids to support. She had knowledge of the construction business and launched one of her own. “It was a labor of love,” Barbara says of the company, which supplies and installs the manufacturing systems that help other companies do their work.
Barbara’s business and her family blossomed over the two decades following the company’s founding. Her son, Ross, became a television producer in Los Angeles and her daughter, Holly, and her son-in-law, Stan, live in Denver with their children. While celebrating the arrival of her first granddaughter several years ago, Barbara was in the process of selling her business. After taking care of her family’s needs and sharing the success with her employees, Barbara created a vehicle for her family’s philanthropy – the Grogan Family Fund at The Denver Foundation.
“Although I was deeply involved in the community while I owned my business, I wanted to create a legacy for the community when I sold it in 2004, and I was eager to engage my kids and someday my grandkids in the practice of family philanthropy,” Barbara states. “I thought, at the time, that the best way to accomplish that goal would be to start a family foundation.” As the sale of the business approached, Barbara’s lawyer had drawn up the paperwork to start the foundation. Right before the sale, she happened to be having lunch with David Miller, who shared with her the benefits of a donor-advised fund. She tore up the paperwork for the private foundation that same day.
On the day she established the fund at The Denver Foundation, Barbara spoke with her children about the importance of philanthropy. “I’ve seen money empower people. I’ve seen money destroy people. I want it to be a positive influence, to help my children and grandchildren learn the joy of giving. We have been very blessed, and we always need to remember that to those whom much is given much is expected.”
Barbara ultimately chose The Denver Foundation to steward her fund because she believed “the Foundation would offer my family the support to give wisely over several generations long after I am gone.”
Her legacy is proof that Barbara knows what can be achieved with a solid foundation.
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