Bringing a Foundation to Life


In the early 1990s, Archbishop John Roach gathered a small group of Catholic business leaders to pitch an idea. Larry McGough, a founder of McGough Construction, remembers that day: “The Archbishop brought up the idea of starting a Catholic community foundation. And he thought we should raise $45 million to get it going.”

Not everyone in the group was on board, but Larry thought it was a good idea. “I told the Archbishop, ‘I’m all for it.’”

Over the next year, Larry accompanied the Archbishop to meetings with more than 100 families in the archdiocese. They presented the case for the new foundation and asked each family to invest. “Nobody turned down a meeting with the Archbishop,” Larry says. “We ended up raising more than we aimed for between outright gifts and testamentary intentions.”

Tom Gainor, who retired in 1993 as First Vice President at the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis, also helped build the new venture. He marvels at the tremendous amount of work that went into creating a foundation from scratch.

Tom recalls vigorous discussions in the early years about distribution rates for endowment funds. “Some felt we needed to give out more, and others believed if we paid out too much, we’d be impoverishing our future selves,” he says. “Fortunately, we were blessed early on with talented people on the staff and board who helped create a structure that handled investments and grant distributions in a responsible way.”

Women Leaders at the Table from the Beginning

Enterprising and talented Catholic women were an integral part of CCF’s early years. Karen Rauenhorst, who joined CCF’s board in 1995, recalls the contributions of her contemporaries, “From the start, strong women leaders such as Mary Frey and Mary Quigley put their stakes in the ground and wanted to be part of creating a vision for the Foundation.”

As a prominent supporter of many Catholic charitable organizations, Karen credits her experience at CCF with helping her become a better philanthropist. “It has shown me what good grantmaking looks like and how to collaborate in the community,” Karen says. “CCF really engages with all its partners both locally and nationally.”

A Leap of Faith Paves the Way

Tom believes the leap of faith taken by early investors and sound management over the years have paved the way to CCF’s long-held position as one of the nation’s largest Catholic community foundations. “We hoped and prayed we’d have success, but I don’t think we expected the good Lord to bless us this much,” says Tom.

Larry’s early confidence never wavered, but he is no less appreciative. “We’ve had some great leaders, starting with our first president, Jim Mullin, then Marilou Eldred, and now Anne Cullen Miller,” Larry says.

He reflects, “When you look at how much money we give away now, and all the people and places being helped, it shows we really did need a Catholic community foundation.”



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