Unlocking our Community's Potential: Mary Burke

A conversation with fundholder, Legacy Society member, and former Board of Governors member Mary Burke.

How did you get involved with MCF?

The first exposure I had was from being involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. I was impressed right from the start by the people that I met, the process, and the sense of really wanting to support good work in the community.

Why is education a top priority for your charitable giving?

Like the community foundation, I also believe that we all have a shared responsibility in how everyone in our community can thrive. My belief is that every child should have access to an education in which they can find the support to accomplish their dreams, to have hope, and to see the life that is available to them or the type of person they can become. All of that happens through education.

Tell us about your recent nonprofit initiative, Building Brave, which uses technology to connect and empower women to unlock their potential?

There are a lot of similarities to the work I’ve done and my belief in education. Education is all about unlocking people’s potential. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which external biases and social norming can keep people from their potential. And whether it’s gender-based or race-based, they’re significant.

Who are your role models in life and philanthropy?

I credit my parents with a sense of curiosity, seeing how the world is, how other people think, not passing judgment based on people’s situations in life. I’ve been given a lot and I was brought up to believe that the more you are given, the more you should give back. Madison has incredible role models in terms of community and giving. Lots of times people do things behind the scenes, which is natural, but we also need visible philanthropists, givers, and engagers because as Madison grows we need to make sure our culture of a strong sense of community and shared responsibility grows with it.

Why do you partner with MCF?

The community foundation has always taken a leadership role and looked at how it can have the greatest possible impact. If you’re going to invest you want a trusted voice and MCF is that trusted voice. There’s no doubt that whatever your interest or whatever your passion, you can find an organization that is doing great work in Madison and the breadth of the knowledge of the Community Foundation truly supports that.

Why did you join the Legacy Society?

I think our legacies are what we do every single day, but why not leave that legacy of knowing that the impact will continue?