||© Nathan Mandell
Froetscher finds success in 'significance'
all measures, Janet Froetscher is a success.
and CEO of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, she has
led a massive consolidation to streamline the 75-year-old
organization, making it more effective by ensuring that more
resources reach communities that most need them. In 2004,
UWMC distributed nearly $55 million to the various agencies
— numbering about 400 — with which it partners.
Kellogg School alum has also been twice named by Crain's
Chicago Business as one of "Chicago's Most Influential
Women," and once as Crain's "40 Under 40" leaders.
She has served as COO of the Aspen Institute, a global forum
for leveraging leadership to improve society. In addition,
during almost a decade as executive director of the Commercial
Club of Chicago's civic committee, she worked with the city
and its top CEOs to implement strategic, operational and financial
improvements in such organizations as the Chicago Board of
successes wouldn't much matter to Froetscher had they not
made a real community impact.
my career I've moved from focusing on conventional 'success'
to focus on 'significance,'" she says. "When you achieve success,
you start wondering how those achievements matter in the bigger
landscape. We are here to make the world a better place and
leave a legacy. I never placed financial goals ahead of my
desire to make a difference."
School Professor of Public Management Donald Haider says Froetscher's
actions confirm these claims. "If you look at Janet's career,
you see that she is attracted to exciting and challenging
arenas where she has great impact that spans public, private
and nonprofit sectors," he says.
who is also director of the Kellogg nonprofit management program,
states that Froetscher has been generous with her time, teaching
in the school's degree and non-degree programs and participating
in events sponsored by the Center for Nonprofit Management.
She and her husband, Robert '83, managing director at Willis
Stein & Partners and Kellogg Alumni Advisory Board member,
also have made financial contributions to the Kellogg Annual
have learned over the years that the Kellogg connection
is an ongoing and valuable relationship. My wife, Margee,
and I have especially enjoyed attending inspirational
Kellogg conferences and alumni board meetings. We are
also proud of the extensive use Kellogg students make
of the quiet study room that bears our names at the Donald
P. Jacobs Center." Scott
H. Filstrup '67, president of The Consultants Ltd., Tulsa,
a role model, a leader and exemplifies the best of Kellogg,"
has indeed made a difference at United Way, where she and
her team were faced with the daunting task of consolidating
54 local chapters into one. They partnered with McKinsey and
The Boston Consulting Group to research best practices and
ultimately shaved 25 percent of their costs, saving $3 million
— money that now is earmarked for community projects.
never easy to make these cuts because our staff is very important
to us and contributes to our success, but there's no question
that the right decision is to invest this money back into
the communities we serve," says Froetscher, 45, who joined
United Way in early 2003.
tough decisions is part of the leader's job, she says. "The
leader sets the vision, what the future looks like and the
role your organization can play. You then have to get people
excited and mobilized to achieve the goals," explains Froetscher,
who credits a religious upbringing for her drive to give back.
the goals are formidable, as they were when Froetscher needed
to consolidate chapters, merge their boards, and rebuild various
processes (all within six months), the leader must "never
ask if you can get there, but how you get there," she says.
wants to be part of something meaningful, and it's the leader's
job to paint that picture for the team and help others see
their role in making it happen," says the Kellogg graduate.
her team, Froetscher relies on her communication skills, necessary
for collaborating with United Way's many local partners. "You
can't get there yourself," she admits. "You need to hire the
most capable people and let them do what they can do. No matter
how smart you think you may be, you're not going to know everything
— finance, marketing, communications."
consolidation behind them, UWMC should be even better positioned
to deliver its host of critical health and human services.
But traditional struggles remain.
part of my job is that we receive three times as many funding
requests than we can fill," says the CEO. "We have to say
'no' to some really good programs, and that's very hard, because
you know some people in need get turned away."
commitment, however, seems unflappable despite the hurdles:
"I never feel as good as when focused on other people. That's
where I find my happiness."
to Alan J. Weber '71
to Why alumni give back