Park Leadership Fellowship enhanced through two new endowment gifts
Donald Douglas, MBA ’00, fulfills promise to pay it forward to the program that invested in him
The Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program is about extraordinary leadership—ambition as well as humility, passion as well as intellect, and achievement as well as service. Since its inception, the scholarship program has enabled the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management to recruit top MBA student talent and build leaders dedicated to making an impact within their organizations and communities.
Donald Douglas, MBA ’00, a former Park Leadership Fellow himself, is giving back to the program that supported him during his time at Cornell. His investment in the Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program comes in the form of two new endowed funds at Cornell: the Donald F. Douglas Director of the Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program, and the Park Fellows Class of 2000 Professional Scholarship, which Douglas has opened for other alumni to contribute to as well.
Investment in himself
Douglas hails from a large-scale family farm that has operated since 1890 across four generations in Washington State. Don and his brothers all came east for college. Don attended Princeton, while John ’98 and Peter ’99 attended Cornell’s Dyson undergraduate business program. Cornell would soon draw Don as well.
Fellow farmer and family friend Larry Frank, MS ’67, MBA ’68, attended Johnson, and his experience convinced Douglas to apply to the MBA program after his undergraduate studies. Upon being accepted, being awarded the Roy H. Park Leadership Fellowship ultimately convinced him to attend Johnson.
“On the first day of classes at Johnson, I promised Dean Robert Swieringa that I would one day pay forward the investment that was being made in me by the fellowship,” Douglas says. “Since graduation, this remained a pursuit of mine, and I’m thrilled to be able to finally give back and complete my original vow to do so.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have received a Park Fellowship,” Douglas adds, “because the program afforded me a great deal both in terms of education and flexibility to pursue entrepreneurship upon graduation, which would not have been possible with school debt.” After four years in the corporate world, Douglas purchased Woodside Electronics Corporation, an early leader in electronic sorting machinery for sensitive fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Investment in the program’s future
Douglas’s two gifts, the Donald F. Douglas Director of the Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program and the Park Fellows Class of 2000 Professional Scholarship, were both enhanced by matching funds (1:3) provided by the SC Johnson Endowment Challenge, a special initiative that encourages endowment giving in support of the schools and programs of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.
“The Park Leadership Fellows program is a unique opportunity that we are grateful to have in our portfolio of leadership development offerings here at Johnson,” says Laura Georgianna, MBA ’03, MILR ’04, executive director of Leadership Programs and now the Donald F. Douglas Director of the Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program. “It helps us attract top talent to the Johnson MBA program and gives these students a structure to stretch and grow as leaders while also giving back to the Johnson and Ithaca communities.”
A unique and valued differentiator for the Park Fellows program is the intense personal leadership development curriculum the program director both designs and implements. In this sense, Georgianna, a former Park Fellow herself, is the glue that creates the consistent learning experience for fellows year on year and maintains the “brand promise” of the fellowship experience.
“The gift from Don has a unique importance in that he has endowed the program director role in addition to starting a scholarship for future fellows,” Georgianna says. “The program director role orchestrates the entire program experience, from partnering with Admissions on selection of fellows to leading the fellows experience and curriculum throughout the two years and maintaining an active alumni community. This gift highlights the criticality of such a role and ensure the robust nature of the program experience will continue going forward.”
Douglas’ Park Fellows Class of 2000 Professional Scholarship gift, first and foremost, supports this exceptional program immediately and in perpetuity. It also sends a strong signal of program excellence, inspires others to give, and builds upon the program’s historic success to ensure future Park Fellows experience the education and leadership development unique to the program. What is unique about this gift is that the group gift, opened by Douglas, encourages other Park Fellows alumni to contribute to the scholarship at any level that makes sense for them.
“When you have the opportunity to give back and make a difference at a place that you love, you take it, and Don has done just that” says Mark Nelson, Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. “The Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows program is Johnson’s flagship program for attracting and building great business leaders, and Don’s gifts to the fellowship will provide a lasting impact by helping Johnson enroll the most highly sought-after MBA candidates.”
Investment into the Park legacy
The Roy H. Park Leadership Fellows Program was established in 1997 by Roy H. Park Jr., MBA ’63, and is funded by the Triad Foundation, which carries on the legacy of his father, American entrepreneur Roy H. Park. The program serves to attract the highest caliber MBA talent to Johnson, and to reward demonstrated leadership potential. The program was founded on a leadership theme that emphasizes the development of leadership skills.
Annually, the Park family and Triad Foundation provide fellowship support that substantially covers tuition for the annual Park Fellows class cohort of 24 students. As tuition has increased and the alumni community has grown, the Triad Foundation and Johnson have looked to alumni to be partners in sustaining the program and its full-tuition fellowship. “We are very proud of Don as a Park Fellow for giving back in such an extraordinary way to the program that helped create the foundation that led to his success as an entrepreneur,” states Roy H. Park Jr.
Many Park Fellow alumni have stepped up to do just that. Jessica Rolph ’97, MBA ’04, and Decker Rolph established the Park Fellows Class of 2004 Professional Scholarship, which similarly allows other Park Fellows to contribute to the endowed fund. Robert Collins, MBA ’05, and Shannon Collins, MBA ’06, made the first multi-year, current-use commitment to support Park Fellow scholarship in the form of a named term scholarship, and other alumni have since followed their lead. The Park Fellow Alumni Scholarship provides much-needed annual support through multi-year commitments from alumni like Frances McLean, MBA ’99, and gifts from many Park Fellows through initiatives such as Cornell’s Giving Day.
Douglas hopes Park Fellow alumni will continue to pay forward the investment made in them by the Triad Foundation, and that all Johnson alumni will support current and future students who will soon join their alumni community. “Alumni involvement and support are critical to Johnson’s ability to deliver an exceptional learning experience, and we are very grateful for Don’s continued leadership that started when he arrived at Johnson over 20 years ago,” says Ben Davis ’88, Johnson’s associate dean of Alumni Affairs and Development.