At Living Well, we know that people are what make the difference between having a mission, and having a mission that thrives. The people we support, the staff who work hard to care for them with kindness and inclusion, the families who work with us in tandem for the benefit of their loved ones, and the people who make advocacy a part of their lives through volunteering, donating, or sharing our stories, in conjunction give us the tools and resources needed for Living Well to meet our mission of transforming lives of people living with disabilities by providing exceptional services.
This week is our first Meet the Board spotlight, and who better to start with than Board Chair, Kevin Pleasant. Known as KP by many, he is one of Living Well’s kindest most dedicated supporters, who just happens to have a heart of gold and an innate ability to make people feel welcome, supported, and worthy of being advocated for.
KP is a banker by trade, a runner for sport, and a lover of music (mostly New Wave and Reggae although he is open to seeing anything if he is out with good friends). Above all, KP is a dedicated family man who enjoys spending time with his wife Leslie, and their children Taylor and Trent. And lucky for us, he shares his passion for Living Well with his family, and his professional network, too.
Get to know a little more about KP and his why. The reasons why people support nonprofits are vast, and we are grateful he shares his time and wisdom with all of us.
Number of years/months with Living Well: Six years. Started on the Finance Committee in the first year, in my second I joined the Gala and Executive Committees. Chaired the gala for two years, in 2020 and 2021 and now the Board Chair for 2023 and 2024. (Watch Kevin speak at the 2023 Gala here at 26:52)
Hobbies/Interests: I like to run, and am part of the Brewery Running Series, which has stepped up and chosen Living Well as a charitable partner. I spend a lot of time hanging out with my son, daughter, and wife Leslie. As a family we enjoy travelling and have done many Minnesota road trips as well as a few more exotic trips like a Hawaiian getaway. A family favorite was a drive out west to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We stayed in Boseman and made our way there taking the north loop. Whitewater rafting in the Grand Tetons on the snake river was a little exhilarating and admittedly nerve-wracking with the kids, but super memorable if a little risky. I also like music and enjoy concerts with friends.
And am still in contact with many of my Luther College friends and the UMD crew who I hung with while they were on the five-year plan.
Education: I have BA in Business Management from Luther College, and a mini-MBA certificate from the Executive Education program from St. Thomas. The program increases value and potential in the workplace by offering condensed modules of the standard MBA program.
Job Experience/History: I have worked in banking for most of my career, but not necessarily by design. I admit to loving trips to the bank with my parents as a young boy. Back then going to deposit or withdraw money was an event. The banker was like the mayor, and he got to wear a suit. It felt really cool to me. My dream job was to own an Italian Restaurant or play professional football. Since that didn’t pan out—I landed in banking.
I recently started at Minnesota Bank and Trust, a division of HTLF Bank as Vice President, Sr Treasury Management Banking Officer. Over the years, I have worked for small and very large banks, often specializing in treasury management as well as payment solutions.
Favorite part of your day job and board position: In my day job, I have a client facing position where I meet with business owners and their financial teams. I get to share tips and best practices that really help them achieve their goals and visions from a financial standpoint. The services I provide create efficiencies and go a long way to making sure their balance sheets are strong. It is fulfilling and meaningful work.
Through my board commitments, I get to work in conjunction with the staff and the leadership team to ensure the mission of the organization is carried out efficiently. With a strong board the organization can be around for 100 years, and that is rewarding. The people we serve at Living Well are near and dear to my heart. As the parent of a child with challenges and disabilities this organization means a lot to me.
Favorite Living Well story: When I visited a house for the first time, one of the people served there made a huge impression on me. I went there to deliver a gift to a volunteer receiving a Dreammaker award. It was my first year on the committee and we were set to have dinner with the people who lived there and the staff. Immediately upon entry I was given a tour of the entire home and welcomed with open arms. One of the people ended up asking me if I was married, and at first it took me by surprise. When you go into anything you often have no idea what to expect—and I ended up getting flirted with. It opened my eyes to the idea that we all basically want the same thing, mostly connection and conversation. It paved the way to how I interact and treat individuals I meet with disabilities—I treat them just like everyone else. I really enjoy getting to know the people at the Living Well homes and at the gala last month it felt more like a family gathering, with many people recognizing me from various visits and volunteer events.
What is your motivation for working with Living Well: Initially it was being the parent of a child with disabilities that drew me to Living Well. Getting insights on how to be an advocate for him, being exposed to the organization and programs, and learning ways to navigate the system felt like a true fit. It was also my connections to Martha the CFO when I joined the Board, and Julie the CEO. I knew Martha from college and Julie from another board. But over time it evolved, and I fell in love with the Living Well mission and the people. They expanded my passion for wanting to help.
What makes you stay: In the people and the mission I feel a connection—these are my people now. I look forward to getting to know the people professionally and personally, both staff and individuals supported. I am meeting more and more people, and it is great. It was fun at the gala and having a few individuals want to come chat after seeing me at Family Fun Day. They wanted to hang out and have a conversation, just like my running friends and Luther College friends. It was perfect. We are all just people and we were connecting!! Familiarity grows over time.
What would you tell people interested in joining the board: It’s a great opportunity to help individuals, whether you have personal connections to disability or not. It truly is a great way to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities as well as the people around them in the community. The board itself is a great way to be exposed to very smart and dedicated people, all from different professions with different perspectives. I have learned so much about leadership. Creating and developing programs is a great way to control your ability to develop new skills and create your own parameters. Board membership is also a great way to network. I tell people if you are looking to expand your network and learn about your community, consider joining a board! And the staff are just as impressive and helpful.
Do you volunteer in your community or school: I was just down the street from Living Well at Feed My Starving Children, with work. Community Week at work is important to the bank, and that feels good, knowing my employer values nonprofits as much as I do.
Thank you KP, we adore your advocacy and dedication to Living Well!