For Isenberg MBA grad Fran Hutchins ‘13, giving has always been central to her family’s culture. When Fran was growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, her family endowed scholarships at the alma mater of her mother and father. Now Fran is honoring him with a scholarship of her own for Isenberg students. The $25,000 commitment also underscores her gratitude to Isenberg. And it embodies her determination to empower first generation college students and students from underrepresented populations. “I was one of very few students of color in Isenberg’s MBA program,” Hutchins recalls. “That’s one among many underrepresented populations that the scholarship will help.”
Although Fran has been giving to Isenberg since graduation, this year was a first. “This year, I decided to bring that giving to a different level after Isenberg approached me.” Support for Isenberg, she says, is a worthy exception in her periodic giving to other institutions, which mostly targets politically focused advocacy groups. Fran is Deputy Director of the Equality Federation, a national organization and network that partners with state-based groups on behalf of LGBTQ political, economic, and social equality. As a large national network, the Equality Federation empowers local LGBTQ communities while adapting to their specific circumstances. To that end, it trains and partners with local and regional leaders in promoting LGBTQ community rights through initiatives in state legislatures and local governments.
“My Isenberg experience has transformed my career in advocacy from ground-level work to a national leadership role,” Fran says. Those tools include data-driven management skills as well as leadership smarts—all relevant to Hutchins’ work for the Equality Federation. “We operate in a big national network,” she says. “Recently, we successfully updated our internal operating systems. I remember doing a case study at Isenberg with similar challenges.” Through this experience and others, Hutchins has first-hand knowledge that business school skills empower advocacy groups, helping them to make the world a better place.
As an Isenberg student, Fran also discovered her aptitude for finance and accounting. “I enjoy doing budgets,” she confesses. That has brought value to the Federation and an added bond with her accountant/CFO father whose history of giving she has emulated. “When I returned home with summer accounting assignments after my first year at Isenberg, he was super excited—both with the accounting and my success at Isenberg.”