College of Business Administration graduate Karen Davis is a strong leader of the community outreach and building philosophy that the University of Rhode Island has strived to maintain since its inception. Davis currently leads the philanthropic programs of Hasbro, Inc. Prior to joining Hasbro, Karen spent fifteen years in the development field in higher education. Outside of Hasbro, the list goes on; she currently serves on the board of the Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island and a number of other non-profit advisory councils and boards and is the past vice chair of the RI United Way Children, Youth and Families Impact Group and Out-of-School Time Initiative Chair.
"URI gave me the opportunity to make the most of my life," says the Warwick, Rhode Island native. "I was the first in my family to go to college. I always wanted to go to URI. I never understood the affinity for Providence College, URI had so much more to offer."
In 2008 Karen was elected chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals (ACCP), an independent organization and leading resource for corporate giving professionals. The group has ties with 150 of the world's largest corporations as members, including Amgen, Johnson & Johnson, and Walmart. The organization, whose members represent over $20 billion in annual investment in social issues, provides a much needed forum for corporate giving professionals.
"The outlook of our association couldn't be brighter. Karen brings such passion and integrity to the organization," said Mark Shamley, President of ACCP. "Her extensive experience in corporate giving and her visionary outlook are qualities sure to lead ACCP into its next phase as a leader in corporate social responsibility. Karen will continue to build upon our success, laying a solid foundation for the organization's future."
Davis also continues to carry out the responsibilities of social commitment she cultivated at the University of Rhode Island by managing the Hasbro Children's Fund. Through its philanthropic programs, Hasbro has helped over 5 million children in need world wide. The charity assists children in triumphing over critical life obstacles as well as bringing the joy of play into their lives. They provide support for programs which provide terminally and seriously ill children respite and access to play, educational programs for children at risk, and basics for children in need.
Davis also is involved with the company's Employee Volunteer program which consists of a database of local organizations with volunteer opportunities. Employees are eligible for 4 hours of paid time off each month to volunteer with children. The program also allows child-centered non-profit agencies in Rhode Island, Springfield, MA, Vernon Hills, IL and Seattle, WA to post their volunteer opportunities on their website.
She has been involved with Hasbro's new venture to help the AIDS orphans of Zambi. She explains in a post on adage.com: "I've had amazing opportunities to represent Hasbro as we support organizations that have changed the lives of children all over the world. With our new initiative, Project Zambi, I've watched our dedicated employees rally around a cause and share a collective determination to tell the stories of the millions of children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Project Zambi began with my trip to Africa to visit one of Hasbro's philanthropic projects. Like most of us, I was aware of the devastating toll that AIDS has taken on sub-Saharan Africa, but once there, I saw the epidemic's youngest victims; the orphans. Sitting face to face with them and seeing their suffering as well as their smiles and indomitable spirits brought a personal sense of urgency to this crisis. I continue to be reminded every day of how much of life is the luck of where we are born.
In some African countries affected by the AIDS epidemic, it is estimated that 20% of children younger than 17 are orphans. In addition to the trauma of losing their parents, children who have been orphaned by AIDS face the stigma of the disease that stole their loved ones. They are more likely to never begin school and are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, as well as physical and emotional neglect. In many cases, children are being raised by their siblings, who are just children themselves. There are an estimated 15 million children orphaned by AIDS worldwide; this is a global crisis that demands our attention. Today you can see the results of this labor of love: Zambi the Baby Elephant is on sale now, and Hasbro has committed to donate 50% of the net profits, a minimum of $500,000, to the Project Zambi Fund, part of the Hasbro Children's Fund, beginning this year."
When asked about her thoughts on giving back to the community and academic worlds, she said "It's not really about giving back; it's about making the most of the pot you're planted in. I'm grateful for the education I got at URI, it motivated me to want to help. I'm very fortunate to be able to get up in the morning and love the work I do. I get to make a difference."
Davis also wishes to impart an important word of advice to current students at the College of Business Administration and throughout the University: "Take advantage of all the opportunities. Those four years go by so fast; you need to make the most of them. It can be whatever you want it to be."
It goes without saying that Karen Davis is definitely an example of the role a University of Rhode Island graduate can play not only in the local community, but also the global community, spreading her generosity and community philosophy she cultivated at the College around the world.