Alicia Beck, philanthropy director, was recently named one of the 2022 NextGen leaders by the Kansas City Business Journal for her achievements at UMB Bank and involvement within the community. Alicia was also accepted into the 2022 Centurions Pinnacle program. We sat down with Alicia to learn more about her role at UMB Bank, approach to leadership and passion for Kansas City.  

Tell us about your role as philanthropy director at UMB.

I am responsible for the administration of UMB’s charitable trusts and foundations. In this role, I administer Section 501(c)(3) private foundations and facilitate grantmaking to section 501(c)(3) public charities. I spend most days working closely with charities in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area to learn their missions and understand the work they do to support the community.

I help make connections between charities and the trustee decision makers of our private foundations. I’m also on the board of UMB’s charitable foundation and I sit on UMB’s charity events committee.

Sounds like you work with a lot of different people and organizations. How do you build relationships with all your different clients?

I think the key to strong relationships is communication. In helping trustees allocate funds, I have to be both participative and democratic in my communication. With the nonprofits I work with, meeting face-to-face and seeing the impact that they have on the community allows me to truly communicate the needs to the decision makers on the foundations I manage.

Being present and listening is a great first step to building a trusting relationship with everyone I interact with.

Is there a particular issue you are passionate about supporting in the community?

I am passionate about social justice and equality. We’ve come a long way on this issue, but the pandemic shed a massive light on this front and how we have a long road ahead of us. I hope working in the community and supporting charities can ensure that every single Kansas City resident has equal opportunities including in the workforce and every other environment. I am grateful my job allows me to support the funding and grants needed for many nonprofits in our area to implement new programs.

How did you decide you wanted charitable work to be your career?

In law school, I really enjoyed my tax classes and dove in headfirst. Understanding tax law is incredibly helpful in my role as I navigate funds and large donations from private foundations. In addition, I volunteered at a food pantry in college, and I was struck one day when a gentleman walked in without shoes. Without thinking, I took off my shoes and gave them to him. I was overcome with emotion that someone walking the streets didn’t have protection for their feet. This might seem like a small interaction from years ago, but it was foundational to my career.

Volunteering at the food pantry, set in motion my desire to give back throughout my career. I am honored to work with so many organizations in Kansas City that are combating homelessness. During meetings, I constantly come back to this interaction and think about how every person an organization is serving has a story and every volunteer and every dollar donated can have a major impact.

More about Alicia Beck’s story can be found at her feature in the Kansas City Business Journal‡.

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