"We want to get to know our scholarship recipients. We could just give them money, but we want to get involved and help them in other ways."
Leslie Howard is a tangible, personal embodiment of the University of Denver's vision of contributing to the greater good of the community. For her philanthropic endeavors, personal passion and good old-fashioned elbow grease — all aimed at helping needy students reach their greatest potential — Howard is this year's Founders Day Community Service Award recipient.
In 2001, Howard (EMBA '03) and her husband, Gary, started the Gary and Leslie Howard Family Foundation, which provides scholarships to students who want to study business at the University of Denver or Colorado State University, Gary's alma mater.
Thus far, the foundation has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships, has seen 50 of its recipients graduate and currently is funding 30 to 35 more students.
The Howards also organize and run the annual Miracles on Ice hockey camp on the DU campus, serving children who live in Denver's housing projects.
Additionally, Leslie Howard serves on the board of the Bridge Project, which helps children living in Denver public housing achieve their academic potential and graduate from high school. Howard recently provided the organization with an endowment challenge gift.
Running a foundation, serving on boards and managing camps requires a lot of passion and hard work, but Howard says the most rewarding aspect of her altruism is getting to know the students she helps.
Not only does she mentor a young woman through the Bridge Project, but she reaches out to the foundation's scholarship recipients to find out how they're doing and what they need to succeed.
"We want to get to know our scholarship recipients," she says. "We could just give them money, but we want to get involved and help them in other ways."
Corey Danko (BSBA '10, IMBA '10) received $5,000 from the Howards' foundation for five years in a row.
"As I was looking for jobs during my last few months at DU, both Gary and Leslie took the time to meet with me and ask what my career goals and aspirations were," Danko says. "They both took it upon themselves to introduce me to many of their business colleagues within the Denver community."
Howard, who also is mom to 9-year-old twin daughters, says, "This has been an incredible experience for Gary and me. Besides creating kids together, we've created something together that helps other people. It feels good."