Philanthropist runs foundation, hosts hockey camp

Philanthropy may not be the typical use for an MBA, but for Leslie Howard (MBA ’03), it’s working out just fine.

She regularly taps what she learned from the degree to run the Gary and Leslie Howard Family Foundation, an organization she and her husband, now both retired from the telecommunications industry, created six years ago to provide college scholarships for needy students.

“I definitely transfer my education and experience into the foundation, marketing, management, and we even did a business plan for the foundation,” she says.

To date, they’ve helped 30 students get to college with $750,000. Twenty of these students have ended up at the University of Denver.

Leslie says she enjoyed her time at DU and wanted to stay close to the school. That’s one reason she joined the board of the school’s Bridge Project, a program to help inner-city kids become self-sufficient when they grow older.

“Plus, it was a perfect fit for our foundation,” she says.

And in August she and her husband proved their commitment to Bridge by funding and pulling off a first-of-its-kind hockey camp called Miracles on Ice.

Held at DU’s Ritchie Center, the camp brought together 29 boys and girls ages 9–11 for a week of hockey, education and fun.

Why hockey? Well, it was strategy of MBA proportions. And it wasn’t just about goals with a puck.

“It’s about self-confidence; when you consider how tough it is to learn how to skate, especially in a new environment, we know the kids came out of this with more confidence,” Gary says. “About half the kids had never skated at all, and by the end of the week, the kids all played in an actual game.”

The students also got campus tours. “We wanted to plant college as a goal, too,” Leslie says.

The Howards report success. “We had about 40 volunteers who took off work for the week to help out, vendors gave us cash and everything just went very well,” she adds.

But perhaps the most important sign of success was a note from one of the kids. It read simply: “I never worked hard but also had so much fun.”

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