100 Years, 100 Stories
This is one in a series of stories about the leadership of the Metropolitan Community College Foundation board. MCC Foundation directors serve as ambassadors for the college, advocate in the community on its behalf, and raise money to support student scholarships and special campus initiatives across the district.
JASON DALEN, chair of the Foundation’s 25-member board of directors, joined the board in 2011.
Thirty-second bio: Dalen is a financial advisor with the Coronado Wealth Management Group at UBS Financial Services in Leawood. He was previously associate director of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, an organization of CEOs that provides leadership on issues critical to the region’s long-term success. There, Dalen directed legislative and advocacy activities and oversaw initiatives relating to life sciences and higher education. Dalen also worked as an attorney for the Polsinelli firm. He lives in Kansas City’s Roanoke neighborhood.
Signing up: Foundation board member David Levy asked Dalen if he’d be interested in joining. “At the time I was with the Civic Council and doing a lot of education and workforce development, so it fit in really nicely with what I was doing professionally,” Dalen says. “And I live two blocks from the Penn Valley campus.”
What a member does: “The primary role of a Foundation board member is to be an advocate, and advocacy means spreading the word, being an ambassador, informing folks what the college is and what it’s doing, raising money, raising awareness.”
And this, too: Board advocacy should also extend to elected officials, Dalen believes. “We have a pretty high-profile Foundation board, and our members are all writing checks and giving to political candidates. When they’re doing that anyway, I’d like to see them include the community college in the conversation as they’re delivering those checks.”
Community college experience: Dalen grew up in Overland Park, attended Shawnee Mission South High School and took a handful of dual-credit (high school/college) classes at Johnson County Community College, including one or two evening classes on campus.
One critical role community colleges play is “helping kids get an early start on college, get some experience under their belt before they even get out of high school,” Dalen says.
Geographic diversity: “A lot of folks don’t understand that MCC has five campuses,” he notes. Someone familiar with Penn Valley in midtown KC might never have heard of Maple Woods in the Northland, and vice versa, or realize they’re in the same college system.
The Foundation board, which meets six times a year, makes it a point to get around. Four of those meetings take place on the campuses. Dalen said he’s heard members say things like “Oh, I didn’t know how beautiful this campus was” or “I didn’t know we had a vet tech program.”
A big birthday: Dalen co-chaired MCC’s Centennial Celebration gala in April at the Kansas City Convention Center. Besides raising a record amount of money for the college (more than $420,000), the gala offered an opportunity to share MCC’s story with 800 people. “The guests learned a ton about the college and the alumni we have,” including former Royals owner “Mr. K,” Ewing Kauffman.
MCC is: “Kansas City. Our alums are everywhere you look, everywhere you go, contributing and helping to grow our regional economy. They’re police officers, nurses, CEOs, computer programmers, welders.”