Linda Childears advises foundation donors on how to clearly define their charitable intent to reflect their values and beliefs. Linda retired from the Daniels Fund on April 30, 2020, after serving as its President and CEO for 15 years. Bill Daniels appointed her a trustee of his estate and named her to the original Daniels Fund Board of Directors. Her leadership reflected her strong dedication to honoring Bill Daniels’ philanthropic intent.
Daniels Fund carries forward Bill Daniels’ legacy by providing grants to nonprofit organizations and college scholarships to deserving students in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Under Linda’s leadership, the organization grew from $1 billion to $1.5 billion, after distributing approximately $1 billion in grants and scholarships. The Daniels Fund was named Outstanding Foundation in 2008 during National Philanthropy Day in Colorado.
Linda met Bill Daniels when he hired her company, The Financial Consortium, to help overcome the unprecedented operational, legal, and regulatory challenges of opening Young Americans Bank, his bank for kids. The one-of-a-kind bank required 16 unique regulatory exceptions. By the time of the bank’s grand opening in August 1987, Linda had accepted Bill’s offer to become its President & CEO.
Prior to Young Americans, Linda spent several years in “adult” banking as President of Equitable Bank of Littleton and Vice President of First National Bancorporation, working with 16 affiliate banks.
She served as a board member of Colorado Bankers Association, Graduate School of Banking at Colorado, and Colorado Student Loan Program, and was Chairman of the American Bankers Association Education Foundation. Linda has served on the boards of five banks including First National Bank of Santa Fe, with offices in Colorado and New Mexico. She currently serves on the board of Alpine Bank of Colorado.
Linda is a member of the boards of Firefly Autism, St. Joseph Hospital Foundation and the International Women's Forum of Colorado.
She is the past Chair of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. She has served on over 30 state/local boards and six national boards and chaired nine of them. They include Colorado Concern, Employers Council, Millennium Bridge Capital (formerly Cheyenne Capital Fund), Young Americans Bank, National Assembly, National Camp Fire, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Alliance for Choice in Education, American Red Cross—Mile High Chapter, Cherry Creek Business Improvement District, Colorado Association of Funders, Colorado Meth Project, Council on Foundations, Daniels College of Business, Dental Lifeline Network, Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, Denver Police Foundation, Denver Public Schools Foundation, DU Bridge Project, Foundation for Teaching Economics, Johnson & Wales University Advisory Board, Junior Achievement, Mile High United Way, OpenWorld Learning, and Young Americans Center for Financial Education.
Awards and Recognition
Linda received the Del Hock Lifetime Achievement Award from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2016 and the Outstanding Woman in Business Lifetime Achievement Award from the Denver Business Journal in 2019. The Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce named Linda one of its 25 Most Powerful Women in 2014. She was National Philanthropy Day’s Outstanding Professional in Philanthropy in 2010, and City Year Denver’s 2015 Red Jacket Honoree. Other honors include the Athena Award, Colorado Bankers Association Banker of Distinction, Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation Dreammaker Award, Girl Scouts of Colorado Woman of Distinction, El Pomar Foundation Ben Wendelken Special Trustee Award, Urban League McKinley Harris, Jr. Distinguished Warrior Award, Warren Village Philanthropic Leader Honoree, and Honorary Lifetime Membership in Camp Fire. Linda has received honorary doctorate degrees from Johnson & Wales University and the University of Denver.
Retired, after serving as CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association since 1979. Prior to starting at CBA in 1975, he did policy analysis on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC and managed successful Congressional campaigns.
Juris Doctor from the University of Denver College of Law (night school) in 1981; Graduate School of Banking at Colorado, University of Colorado, in 1978; BSBA (Marketing) from Colorado State University in 1973 (also CSU student body president).
Varied community activities:
● Common Sense Institute board and chair of Free Enterprise Cabinet ● Building a Better Colorado (Treasurer) ● Let Colorado Vote (vice-chair) ● Colorado Competitive Council (chair) ● Colorado Concern ● American Red Cross Mile High Chapter 100th Anniversary (co-chair) ● Colorado Civil Justice League (chair) ● Colorado Housing Council (chair) ● CSU & CU College of Business executive councils ● First Amendment Council, ● Craig Hospital PUSH Dinner (co-chair), ● Colorado Nonprofit Association 25th Anniversary (co-chair), ● Republican and bipartisan activities and campaigns, and ● other task forces, nominating committees, advisory boards, charitable and political committees.
● BancInsure Board of Directors and Reinsurance Committee, ● Graduate School of Banking at Colorado (University of Colorado) Trustee and Treasurer, ● Graduate School of Banking (University of Wisconsin-Madison) Board, ● ABA (Board of Directors, BankPac, Government Relations Council, State Association Division [chair], Regulatory Relief Task Force [chair], numerous task forces), as well as ● Central States Conference (chair) and ● boards for an insurance agency, a publishing company, and a burglar alarm company among others.
He speaks, lectures or teaches on government, political influence, and banking at banking schools, law schools (University of Denver, University of Colorado, George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School), and others. TV interviews have included Al Jazeera, BBC, ABC World News, CNN, CNBC, PBS, Fox News, NBC Nightly News and others as well as publications including American Banker, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, and Washington Post.
Awards and Recognition
In November 2020 Don received Denver Business Journal's Pinnacle Award for The Most Admired CEO. Industry awards have included the Scarboro Award from the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado, and a Special Tribute by a U.S. Senator.
He grew up in Saguache (a small town in rural southern Colorado) and is married to Linda Childears who served 15 years as President/CEO of the Daniels Fund ($1.5B charitable foundation) in Denver and organized and was CEO of Young Americans Bank prior to that. Linda and Don consider 17 special young people their “chosen” family.
The Childears married January 1, 1995. Both had a previous marriage, but by choice neither had children. Through their careers and community involvement, they met several young people they were drawn to over the years. Some were customers from Young Americans Bank. Some were scholars at the Daniels Fund. Some were employees.
What they all had in common was a set of strong values, a positive outlook on life, and a strong drive to succeed, be self-reliant, and help others.
There are seventeen in the “chosen family", ranging in age from 28 to 52. Most are married or in significant relationships. They come from six countries. In addition to the seventeen, there are twenty “chosen grandchildren.”
Being with the chosen family and following their careers and families is our favorite pastime. We see them often individually and as a group.
The photo above is from 2019 New Year’s Eve. Many of the family joined us to celebrate our 25th anniversary.
Bo & Devon
Tioma, Diana, David & Alan
Tim & Sarah, Don officiating wedding
David, Brooke, Harper & Paige
Jase & Danielle
Erin & Skyler
Yusuf & Karima
Sarah & Joey
& Dom >>>
Chris & Zaydin
Carlos & Noelle
Elio & Corrine
Jordan & Christian
Saurabh, Disha, Arjun & Vadaan
Miz & Jocelyn
Miz, Amalie & Olivia
Bryan, Gaddi, Sophia & Mathew
Us, learning to fly a 787 - in a simulator