A giving heart: Janet and Jack Ayres encourage leadership in philanthropy by giving back
Of all the things that Janet and Jack Ayres learned at K-State, leadership is at the top of their list.
“Involvement in student organizations was a big part of our K-State experience,” Janet said. “It was through that involvement that we were able to develop leadership skills, appreciate different management styles, and understand the impact of effective leadership. K-State was a learning lab for us, and the leadership skills we gained are those we continue to apply today.”
Perhaps it’s not surprising then that the Ayres would want to make sure today’s students are given the same opportunities. They recently established the Ayres Student Foundation Fund, an endowment which will provide support for the development of Student Foundation leaders and the programs they create to advance philanthropy at K-State.
“We wanted to support Student Foundation by providing funds to encourage students who are working to promote philanthropy,” Janet said. “Whether that’s bringing in special speakers, attending conferences and any number of other opportunities that can help Student Foundation members build leadership skills and advance their programs; we want to give them that flexibility.”
A 1970 graduate, Janet was an active student leader who went on to work for the K-State Alumni Association, helping to develop programming that continues today. For more than 40 years, she has been active with the alumni association, serving as board chair and helping with strategic planning.
The Ayres live in Scottsdale, Ariz., where Janet is Director of Operations for EPIC Research & Diagnostics, a bio-medical device company and Jack is president of Finsar Capital. They are trustees of the KSU Foundation, President’s Club members and lifetime members of the Alumni Association. Janet also serves on the KSU Foundation’s Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and development committee.
Members of the Student Foundation are already feeling the impact of the Ayres’ generosity.
“We are so grateful to the Ayres for their generous donation to Student Foundation, which serves as a model to us for the impact donors have on the university,” said Carolyn Gatewood, former president of Student Foundation. “Their gift speaks volumes to us that there are K-Staters who want to invest in us as students and believe in what we're doing. This contribution already allowed us to increase our efforts in cultivating a culture of philanthropy throughout the student body, with the implementation of the first annual Uphill Week this past fall semester. We look forward to continuing to reach students and inspire them to give back to the university in the same way the Ayres did to us.”
The Ayres hope that by supporting student philanthropy they are helping to develop the next generation of engaged alumni who give back to K-State.
“I know if students become involved in philanthropy while they’re at K-State, there’s a high probability they will continue to give throughout their lives,” she said. “I believe it’s important that we contribute to our alma mater every year and I want to encourage fellow K-Staters to do the same. Can you imagine what we could accomplish if that happened? It would be huge! I feel supporting the Student Foundation is one way to help achieve that.”
Another special element to the Ayres Student Foundation Fund is that other alumni who are interested in supporting the Student Foundation can contribute to the fund as well which will increase the size of the endowment and in turn impact the amount of programming funds available each year.
“Student Foundation and its programs show young adults how fulfilling philanthropy can be for both donors and recipients,” Janet said. “The benefits are beyond measure.”