Natalie M. Guard understands philanthropy at its core.
The spirit of giving was instilled in her since she was a little girl. When she and her dad went fishing, they always gave away extra fish to other families.
Her grandfather, his three brothers, Guard’s brother, and her ex-husband gave their military service.
Giving back is one of Guard’s greatest gifts, and she shares it every chance she gets.
Guard started her philanthropy journey in Texas and continues that legacy in Colorado.
When Guard was living on the post as an Army wife in Texas, she was exposed to the sacrifices entire families go through to serve our country. She wanted to help make a difference and started volunteering at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ PTSD Center. “I loved it,” said Guard, “giving back skyrocketed from there.”
When she moved back to Colorado, Guard was involved with Florence Crittenton, a high school for teen moms. “A lot of my family and friends back home were teen moms,” she said. “I felt like there was a big connection.” (Note: Florence Crittenton is a Community Grants Program grantee and holds an agency endowment fund with The Denver Foundation.) Guard saw first-hand the difficulties of teen parenting. The struggles people face because of the lack of resources. “Unfortunately, it’s very common,” she said. Once again, Guard couldn’t just sit back when she knew there was a way to help. She got involved with a program that provided daycare, wipes, diapers, and other services to young moms.
“I once had a therapist tell me, ‘Every woman has a little girl inside of us and it is our duty to protect and fight for that little girl.’ So, I always told myself that if I was too nervous to go out and do something, then I should at least do it for the little girl inside of me as it was my duty to fight for her,” explained Guard.
Guard understands her duty to fight for herself and encourages other women to do the same.
“I love that quote by Michelle Obama – “when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No, you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.’ I like to look at it as when I walk through the door of opportunity or success, it’s my duty to reach back and grab for someone to come along with me.”
Today Guard is a Certified Public Accountant with G Griggs CPA, Inc. But getting there didn’t come easy for her, she worked hard to earn her position and build a network.
Speak even when your voice shakes, is a personal motto for Guard.
As someone who understands philanthropy at its core, we are honored that Natalie Guard chose to be the vice chair of The Denver Foundation’s Professional Advisors Council (PAC).
We talked with Guard about her philanthropic journey and vision for the PAC moving forward.
- What’s been your journey to your position now?
I started my career in accounting out of college in Virginia. It’s always been important to me to find employers who value and see the importance of my philanthropy. Not being from Denver, I wanted to meet people, but I also wanted to contribute. I felt like it was my duty to contribute; volunteering, serving on boards, whatever needs to be done, wherever there is a need. The way I give back now is by serving on PAC for The Denver Foundation. I’m on the board for the women’s estate planning council, I serve at my church, and volunteer at the Colorado Veterans Project and Ironman in Boulder.
- Why The Denver Foundation?
A lot of people in the community that I’m friends with, network with, and work with, were involved somehow. My mentor Bill Schmidt, he’s been involved for years. I love the cause. They’re fighting for racial equality, and so much is needed in that regard, so I love how involved they are in the community. It’s not just one nonprofit that is dealing with one issue. They can help many nonprofits across the Denver metro area. That’s what was important to me that they have such a wide net that they can cast.
- What are your philanthropic priorities?
Providing opportunities for those that may not have been born into opportunity. Not everyone is looking for opportunities or ways they can give back, but some are. I’m passionate about giving access to and introducing people to people. I understand the power of access and try to share mine with as many people as I can.
- How does the foundation help your clients who are looking for a way to give back?
I prepare taxes for a living, it’s not all that exciting, but I like to get to know our clients. When we pulled out of Afghanistan, I had a client who said, ‘I really want to help, but I don’t know how.’ The Denver Foundation is great because you have such a wider knowledge of the services that are offered. I know what my passion areas are, and I give in those spaces, but The Denver Foundation knows so many more non-profits and can help people find the best ways to make a difference in our communities.
A lot of the people I work with had to work really hard to get to where they’re at. They want to give back once they feel like they’ve reached a level that they can. The Denver Foundation will be a resource for that when they’re ready.
- What are some of your goals as a leader of the Professional Advisors Council?
The Denver Foundation already does an excellent job getting itself out there. I would love to look for more opportunities to serve the public, advisors, donors, and grantees. It is nice being a part of the group because I learn about all the services that are offered that I may not have known before and then I also get to meet all the people that are involved that I may not have known before. I want to share what I have gained with more people. Creating more education around what can be offered at community foundations. How everyone can work together toward similar goals.
- Why be a part of the PAC?
The group itself is just an amazing group of friends who are there for you. It’s a tight-knit group of people who have a common goal, care about the community, and are professionals. We come together and provide our knowledge and everything we’ve learned. It’s a whole bunch of knowledge that is in one setting and it’s beautiful.
Featured image by John S. Miller Photography