Matthew Quinn, KNFP-13 Advisor
Executive Director, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Matthew Quinn Quick Fact: Matt was hired to start the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation in August 2000. He designed a unique scholarship program which seeks each year to identify 35 – 50 exceptional young people in the 7th grade, assign a personal counselor to each of them during the 8th grade and to develop a learning plan for high school. The foundation pays for its implementation, including such expenses as music lessons, speech therapy, private school, summer sessions. They have even bought a cello for one of the scholars. Their plan is to support these young people through college and grad school, with a total potential investment of approximately $400,000 in each of them over the course of 12 to l4 years with them.
How have you, though your leadership, made a difference in one of your communities?
Kids and their families, who have received our scholarships, have indicated the scholarship has changed their lives. E.g., one of our Scholars was homeless, living in a shelter and attending a community college, earning a 4.0 average. We will award him tuition, room and board, and money for other expenses to transfer to a 4 year college, and, if he continues to do well, a grad scholarship of up to $50,000 a year for up to 6 years of study in any field of study anywhere in the world.
What sustains you in your practice of leadership and your commitment to change?
Hearing the screams then tearful, unbelieving laughter on the other end of the phone when I tell the students they have won a scholarship. For many of these students, especially those with dramatic financial need, this is the break of a lifetime.
What do you consciously say to yourself or do that helps you stay on track with your goals?
I regularly read our mission statement and reflect on it with other staff and ask them how our budget decisions fulfill our mission.
What is your passion?
Helping talented, needy, motivated young people.
How do you practice good self-care?
Weekend walks with my wife; daily yoga, meditation and exercise: good wine; lots of fish; Trader Joe’s Pound Plus milk chocolate bars; home made secret recipe Devil’s Delight you’re gonna die tonight chocolate ice cream; vacations at Cape Cod; and most recently, at the ripening age of 67, began to fulfill a life long dream of taking piano lessons and bought a second hand baby grand piano that sounds gorgeous even when I mangle it.
How do you measure success?
Have I hired good people who stay and work hard and are happy to work together; getting done what we had planned to do; do I see the people with whom I work feeling satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment in what they are doing.
If you had to give an aspiring leader one piece of advice, what would it be?
Hire people who are smarter than you are and then get out of their way.
Can leadership be invisible? How and why have you practiced invisible leadership?
Yes. I’ve practiced it by letting others make mistakes that are not fatal.
How do you lead through a crisis?
Focus on simple, essential goals.
Matthew J. Quinn was interviewed on 7/14/2003