After Three Decades, John Strangfeld is Perched Atop the Rock
THE RESPONSIBILITIES that rest on the shoulders of a corporate CEO are immense. But for Strangfeld, the responsibilities go beyond the workplace. He wants to make a difference not only in the lives of his colleagues, customers and stockholders, but also in the lives of those who do not have the opportunities he has had. Following the example set by his parents, Strangfeld and his wife have committed much of their time, assets and focus to philanthropic causes. The common theme that runs through all of their philanthropic interests is providing educational opportunities to those who otherwise might not be able to afford it.
The Strangfelds have personally supported a number of students through college, in addition to their own. They have set up funds for coaching interns at Susquehanna University and for military officers transitioning to the private sector at Darden. He believes funding the salaries of coaching interns is a wonderful “flywheel” opportunity for enhancing the athletic program and the recruitment goals of Susquehanna, and a great way to build out the experiences of student athletes. He also sees it as a great stepping-stone for the interns themselves to get their foot in the door in collegiate coaching. “It’s a win/win all the way around.”
The program at Darden pays the tuition of military officers who also seek to transition to leadership roles in civilian life through an MBA. Many of these individuals are married with children and have recently served in combat. “These are people who have learned how to lead, who have learned how to deal with stress, who have learned how to motivate talented people,” he says. “Frankly, it’s a way of giving back that will greatly benefit our society. I think because of the experiences these military people have had, particularly over the last five years, they deserve our support.”
For Strangfeld, these are the reasons he gets up in the morning. He says he wants to leave a legacy of talented people, whether they work in his company or somewhere else. And at the end of the day, he wants to be able to look back, smile and feel like he played a role in someone else’s success.
Gerald S. Cohen is assistant vice president for communications at Susquehanna.