Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Kevin McGahey! We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
I have lived in Texas all my life. I was born in Tyler, raised in Terrell, and currently live in the DFW metroplex. I grew up watching my grandparents run their own service station, manage rent houses, and maintain a working cattle farm. Their hard work and entrepreneurship always impressed me. Today my own interests are similarly diverse, and I enjoy working on multiple projects simultaneously. While in college at Texas A&M University, I met my wife, and we’ve been happily married for 30 years. We have three children who all have advanced degrees.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career?
I’ve always loved working with numbers and solving problems, and I knew I wanted to pursue a career in accounting from the time I was in high school. My most interesting classes were a combination of accounting, management, and entrepreneurship. By managing the operations and monitoring the financial results of a company, you can have a direct impact on the lives of the employees who work there. In recent years, I’ve found that mergers and acquisitions provide an opportunity to create more value through the combined entity than would have been realized individually so that has become a focus of my efforts.
What is one thing you are proud of achieving in your life?
I am a first-generation college graduate who worked multiple part-time jobs and took out a student loan to complete my degree. While I’ve long since paid off my student loans, one commitment my wife and I made was to provide whatever financial resources our three children needed to complete their college education of choice without going into debt for their degrees. By avoiding the college debt burden, each of my children will start their adult lives with more flexibility as they enter the workforce than I had as a young adult. I believe each generation should attempt to improve the lives of the subsequent generation. Educating and lessening the debt load are ways I’m improving the lives of the next generation of my family.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
A particularly influential person in my professional career was Leo Hart, the Chairman of a company at which I was the CFO. The company went through a challenging period and, over the next three years, Leo and I worked tirelessly through a very stressful situation while preparing the company for sale. Leo’s leadership during the challenges we faced was an inspiration. His values included loyalty to the cause, developing meaningful relationships with various constituencies, integrity above all, and a commitment to seeing a project through to the end. We were able to guide the company through a successful sale. I frequently reflect on those years and am grateful for his leadership and the values he demonstrated to me that I continue to emphasize in my daily professional career.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy research of all kinds, especially learning more about investment opportunities, real estate, and website/domain sales. I love to travel, especially to the mountains of Colorado in the summer or any place warm in the winter. I am not a cold-weather person! We have two rescue dogs (a Dachshund/Maltese mix and a Papillion mix), and they keep us laughing. I love to spend time with my family, and we often go to movies or host gatherings at our home.
Describe a time when you sought out someone else’s idea or feedback and how you incorporated that insight to yield a better result.
At work, I surround myself with the best employees I can hire. By having a strong staff, you can draw on each person’s strengths regardless of the situation. I’ve found It’s beneficial to get feedback from people from all walks of life to really understand the full picture of a situation. One example is when I sought the advice of a Human Resources manager for a particular employee issue. She suggested offering a couple of alternatives to an employee who was disgruntled that I hadn’t considered. I incorporated that feedback into my disciplinary meeting with the employee. Offering those alternatives helped to deescalate the situation.
The road to success is difficult and requires tremendous dedication. What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
A quote I think about frequently that’s attributed to motivational speaker Jim Rohn is “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” We are all influenced by those we surround ourselves with and choosing your friends and colleagues wisely is an important step to reaching your goals. By surrounding yourself with those you feel are successful or you want to emulate, your odds of achieving success are improved because you can maintain a support group to help each other reach your respective goals. By seeking out advice and avoiding the missteps of others you increase your odds of success.
Why did you choose to be a Board Member of Educate. Radiate. Elevate.?
I believe I can contribute to the Board by utilizing my financial and operational background, which includes working in high-growth organizations, creating systems and processes, providing risk management services, budgeting, fundraising, and reporting, to ensure the organization is carrying out its mission. I will take an active role and provide my expertise to expand the reach of the organization to benefit more children, which benefits society as a whole. I will also spread awareness of E.R.E. through my personal and professional network. I am a team player and I am excited to work with your organization to help build on the success of E.R.E.
What about Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values speak most to you, and why?
My beliefs about equity in education are closely aligned with the mission and objectives of your organization. I have seen how making an effort with students who have specific socioeconomic challenges benefits both the students and the community. Being a first-generation college student myself, I know how helpful this type of leadership training and confidence building can be. My family has an extensive history in education and places a high value on equality in education. I have seen the inequalities in educational opportunities firsthand. My wife has tutored disadvantaged youth to prepare them for the college admissions process for the last 15 years, and I have watched the way tutoring builds their confidence, prepares them to become leaders, and puts them on a more equal footing with their classmates.
What are the essential skills one must have to grow and scale a nonprofit like Educate. Radiate. Elevate.?
An essential skill in an educational nonprofit is networking. To grow and scale a nonprofit takes an advisory council, strategic planning, and funding. Creating a sustainable nonprofit is a team effort, beyond the board, and frequently includes partnerships with other organizations. You have to be innovative to be a successful nonprofit, and collaborative efforts are highly valued when building a team. At a nonprofit organization, the support should extend across job descriptions – it takes passionate people who align with the organization’s mission to create a cohesive team.