As part of their estate plan, Emery and Karen (Bly) Koenig have chosen to establish a perpetual endowment at the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota (CCF). “We hope our gift will have an impact beyond our lifetime,” Emery says. “We really trust CCF for competency, integrity, and focus. There’s real peace of mind knowing the funds will always be managed in alignment with the teachings of the Church.”
A Philosophy of Living Simply and Giving Generously
Emery and Karen’s decision to make philanthropy part of their estate plan grew out of lessons in giving that began in childhood. Emery’s mother encouraged her children by handing out nickels every Sunday morning for them to drop into the collection box at Mass. “It became a need to give,” Emery says. Karen recalls the summer her father died in a farm accident when she was a teenager and how neighbors rallied to support the family. “Everyone came together and harvested everything for us,” she says. “It was a good introduction to how wonderful people can be.”
As newlyweds, Emery and Karen committed to tithing, which was a stretch for a young couple just starting out. Emery’s job at Cargill required them to move frequently, and wherever they landed, Karen would find a nursing job at the local hospital. They always strived to live simply, even after Emery was promoted to vice chairman and chief risk officer at Cargill. “We never needed the biggest house,” Emery says.
Emery and Karen focused on family instead. Their first two children, Kristina and John, were 8 and 6 years old, respectively, when Emery and Karen adopted 3-month-old Joseph from Peru, followed a year later by his sister, Catherine. Karen had to stay in Peru for long stretches as each adoption wound its way through the system. “I lived there for six months, and the kindness of those people will never leave me,” she says. “They had nothing, and they were giving to me.”
A Sense of Community
Emery and Karen opened a donor advised fund at CCF in 2006, and Emery joined the board of directors in 2011. As chair of the grants committee, Emery believes CCF’s ethos around grantmaking aligns with his own. “At CCF it’s more than just cutting checks. The staff gets to know the people. They seek feedback,” he says. “I’m lucky enough to have money to give. But whether someone’s giving or receiving, we are equal. We are all in community together.”
For Emery and Karen, who feel they’ve gotten far more than they’ve ever given, creating a charitable endowment at CCF is a natural choice. As Karen reflects on the people living 100 years from now who will benefit from the endowment, she has a message for them: “This comes from God, and God loves you.”