Headline for online: Diversity’s Good for Business, Hallmark Foundation VP Says

Carol Hallquist has a tireless commitment to diversity. Not only diversity in the traditional sense, but in the widely varied work she does as vice president of the Hallmark Corporate Foundation and the initiatives where she commits her personal time. Bringing individuals and communities together is never far from her mind.
Hallquist grew up in Iowa and studied journalism at Iowa State University before working at the Des Moines Register and the Chicago Tribune.
“My department had gay people, Hispanic people, African American people, you name it. It was probably my favorite job because there were so many different cultures and communities,” she said.
From the Tribune, Hallquist ventured to the Fuller Brush Co. and earned her MBA from Rockhurst University before joining Hallmark in 1984. In her first 18 years at the company, she focused on the business side, supporting the company’s gift wrap and retail divisions.
Later, Hallquist took on the role of vice president of the Hallmark Corporate Foundation, where she oversees grant making, volunteer programs, Kaleidoscope, the Hallmark Visitors Center, sustainability efforts (helping Hallmark cut energy, waste, and water by 25 percent), and diversity. Through this position, she became aware of the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Hallquist read an article about the chamber’s CEO, Dan Nilsen, receiving an award and his efforts to launch the organization. Aware of Nilsen through his work at Bishop-McCann, Hallquist figured that “anything Dan took a leadership position on would be done well.”
When the Mid-America GLCC launched, Hallmark signed on as a Chairman’s Plus Partner, the chamber’s highest level of support. Although some major corporations might hesitate to lend their name to a nonprofit serving the LGBT community, for Hallquist, supporting the Mid-America GLCC was an easy choice.
“Big companies are viewed as being more conservative or less ‘with it’ then we really are,” she said, adding that Dave Hall, president of Hallmark North America, was happy to pave the way for other businesses in the area.
“I’m so proud to be working for a culture and a family that do things because it’s the right thing to do, and not because they want their name on something, Hallquist said with a smile.
Hallquist is already seeing numerous benefits from the partnership, from increased supplier diversity opportunities, professional conferences and events, and even recruitment.
“I really believe that the more diverse your workforce, the greater your business results,” she said. “The chamber is helping Hallmark connect with the best professionals and suppliers.”
With all of those work duties for Hallmark, what does Hallquist do to unwind? “I knit. I quilt. But my passion is education reform,” she said.
Education has always been paramount to Hallquist, but the needs of the larger community hit home when her daughter started teaching high school in Kansas City’s urban core. Helping students and families get a fair shot became her mission.
“When you work with a diverse group of people on a project where you all have a common end goal, that’s when the best things happen,” she said.
One thing’s for sure: If Hallquist has any say in the matter, the best is yet to come.
The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) is an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and its allies. Learn more at MAGLCC

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