We sat down with Suku Radia, the newest member of our Business Committee for the Arts Executive Board, to discuss his personal giving philosophy and strategy.
Q. What directs your personal philanthropy and is that mirrored in the work of Bankers Trust?
A. We are a privately held bank and just completed our best year of financial performance in our 95-year history. We are Iowa’s largest community bank. We contribute at least $1 million annually to the community. My wife and I are very generous because we have been blessed with two great careers and three gifted children.
Q. You are incredibly involved in the Des Moines community. Why is giving back so important to you?
A. It is about paying my civic rent. I watched my father’s dedication to community growing up in Uganda. I firmly believe that I have an obligation to leave the community a better place than I found it. It is the “right thing” to do.
Q. Could you describe the ways your engagement and support of the arts has evolved?
A. Very early in my career, I became involved with United Way. As Des Moines embarked on a commitment to the arts, I realized that I could not only support human/social services, but the arts also.
The arts are vital not only for the vibrancy and attractiveness of a community, but they are an integral component of education. Throughout my career, I have been involved in my community. Serving on 15 nonprofit boards has made me realize that for a community to be really successful, it has to come together efficiently and effectively.
Q. The pARTnership Movement, illustrates how engaging with arts organizations can help a company build its brand, attract new business, and retain employees. Is this how you see the partnerships with arts organizations, like Bravo Greater Des Moines?
A. Whenever I become involved in recruiting a senior executive to Central Iowa, which I do a fair amount, I always point out the strength of our arts and culture organizations. One has to disabuse them of the notion that we grow corn in downtown Des Moines! Our partnerships with major arts and culture organizations are very effective because what we have to offer is truly world class. Our senior executives from the major arts organizations are very well-connected and they do a great job of collaborating with the business community. Bravo has elevated the profile of the arts organizations. We place significant emphasis on education with full recognition of helping the kids from underprivileged families. We offer a quality of life second to none.
Suku Radia is President & CEO of Bankers Trust Company in Des Moines, Iowa.