Cecelia Gore has led the Brewers Community Foundation for more than two decades.
What is still ahead for her and the charity?
Gore sat down with Libby Collins on this week’s episode of WTMJ Conversations.
Listen in the player above.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: Cecelia, how did you end up at the Brewers Community Foundation?
CECELIA GORE: I applied for the job, but I was at the Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation for ten years, and the market had changed in 2009. And so, we all thought it might be a good idea to see if there were other opportunities in case the market didn’t recover. And the Pettit Foundation’s endowment was tied to the market. Now it’s still alive and kicking, but at the time, there was a transition of leadership with Mark Attanasio, he had purchased the team a few years prior to my arrival and had worked his way through the organization determining what he wanted to see. And so, I believe I was one of the last areas of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club that he was trying to re-engineer, and I applied for the position. I, you know, put forth my — my best hand and was able to get the job.
LIBBY COLLINS: Did it — did you have to have knowledge of baseball to get the job?
CECELIA GORE: You know, as you might guess, that was one of his questions, and I always laugh because he said, “So, are you a baseball fan?” And I remember nervously saying, “I do understand baseball’s position in the culture of America,” or some corny statement like that, and he said, “So, not a fan, huh?” And I said, “Well, you know, I do love coming to the ballpark. I like to go to the suites and have a good time and eat the food and relax with friends.” And he said, “Well, that’s really not the most important part of this role. We want to be engaged in the community, we want to have a presence, we want to be a part of the fabric of this community. And so, you might be the right person for the job.”
LIBBY COLLINS: What is the primary mission of the Brewers Community Foundation?
CECELIA GORE: We provide financial support to nonprofits in Greater Milwaukee in the areas of health, education, recreation, and basic needs. So, we’re fairly broad, but we start with support for low income and disadvantaged youth and their families and then we work our way out from there. But we support nonprofits that are doing really good things to try to impact the quality of life in this — in this community.
LIBBY COLLINS: How involved are the players in the Community Foundation?
CECELIA GORE: I have a cycle of fundraising. So, every season in February, I start by going down to Arizona, which isn’t a bad deal to be able to leave Wisconsin for a couple weeks. But I sit down alongside my — our vice president of community relations, and she asks each player individually, and I meet with each player individually and ask for their time and their money. And so, we have our payroll deduction form with us, she asks them what they’re interested in and tries to connect them to outreach, opportunities, and I ask them if they’d be willing to make a financial contribution to the foundation. And, fortunately, I’d say in the last five years or so, I’ve gotten a hundred percent giving from the players. Because I think we’ve built a reputation where people know that we are interested in the community, that we want to do some great things, and so players say yes. And it doesn’t hurt that Mark also shares that he’s very interested in doing this work in hopes that they will join him in making a contribution to the foundation.
LIBBY COLLINS: Is there any particular aspect that the players seem to be most concerned about? When you say that you’re doing a lot of outreach in the community, are there things that they say, you know, are you doing this, or can we help in this particular area?
CECELIA GORE: I would say it’s all over the board. I mean, I would start by saying the players are young, you know, they’ve been involved with baseball for a good portion of their young life. They know the importance of giving back to the community. Many of them have had some kind of experience in their family or with themselves that’s health related, or they might have a pet that they love and like our, you know, relationship with the Humane Society, or they’re interested in kids. Some of them are a little bit more mature. Like a Brent Suter, for example, that was very interested in the environment, literacy, he had some relationships prior to coming to the ballpark. Ryan Braun, for example, ended up being a ten-year commitment to the community where he identified four organizations, and he consistently supported those organizations throughout his career and really developed some interesting programming and support for those organizations. So, we’ve been lucky in a lot of different ways.