“What would it take to feed every hungry child in Kansas City?”
That’s the question Carol Hallquist and her team posed to Harvesters, a charitable organization that had requested funding from Hallmark Corporation for their then-small program. Harvesters’ program filled the backpacks of low-income children with food before they headed home from school for the weekends, and they had previously been able to feed 350 kids this way.
What started as a proposal to grow the program to 500 participants turned into a funding campaign that resulted in 18,000 children toting home backpacks filled with groceries every week. That’s a sizeable upgrade. But as president of the Hallmark Corporate Foundation, Hallquist is used to thinking big.
That ability to think big – and to spur others in her team to do the same – is part of how Hallquist came to lead Hallmark’s charitable giving program. She credits her ISU journalism degree with polishing her communication skills and nurturing her curiosity, both of which came in handy when she decided to pursue her MBA at Rockhurst University.
“It’s really a great combination,” Hallquist said of her journalism and business degrees, which helped launch her into the corporate workplace.
After managing various divisions at Hallmark Corporate for several years (during which she pondered whether to leave Hallmark to work in the nonprofit arena), she was approached by their CEO about working for the company’s corporate foundation.
“It was perfect timing,” she said. The ability to work for causes to better the Kansas City-area while staying with the company she’d grown to love “was kind of like a dream come true.”
And now Hallquist is living the dream, helping to fund charitable programs in her work role and volunteering on the boards of charitable organizations in her spare time. Her volunteer work with charities frequently involves helping them find outside donors to fund their projects, a task that puts her on the opposite side of the desk she normally occupies. But Hallquist said that experience can be a good thing. “Then you know what it feels like when people come to you asking for money,” she explained.
But more than her philanthropic activities, Hallquist’s favorite aspect of her career has been mentoring others as they advance through the corporate ranks. A self-confessed “raging extrovert,” Hallquist is passionate about reaching out to and developing leadership among diverse populations, including women.
“I think what I’m most proud of are the people I’ve developed,” she said. “To sit in senior management meetings and see all the people who used to work for me who are at that level… I have to say, that’s probably what I feel best about.”