Laura McKnight

Entrepreneur & Author

Laura is the founder of a media and research firm, launched in 2010. The company, now called Embolden, builds data capture and engagement tools for today's social impact culture, where work, life, community, and wellness have converged.

Laura is a fifth-generation Kansas Citian. She began her career as a tax attorney at Spencer Fane Britt & Browne in Kansas City, Missouri, and then spent several years at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri, serving as its president and CEO from 2006 to 2012. Laura has written and published two books, both of which explore contemporary philanthropy and the ways it impacts our lives well beyond giving to favorite charities.

What makes Kansas City a great place for creativity and innovation?
Kansas City’s culture is an interesting mix of civic pride, a spirit of generosity, enthusiasm and friendliness, entrepreneurial values and a strong sense of optimism and possibility. That combination makes it a really great place for new ideas to not only catch a spark, but also thrive and make good things happen.

When and where are you happiest?
My kitchen counter is a very happy place. It is big! I am convinced it generates creativity and energy. Both my husband and I now prefer to use it as a place to work, instead of our offices. With three daughters also vying for the space, there’s very little room anymore for actually cooking anything, so we just “assemble.”

What is your favorite place in Kansas City?
That has to be my kitchen counter.

Where's your favorite place outside of Kansas City?
Vail, Colorado. My 11-year-old shares my love of hiking. I would hike up a mountain every day if I could, and I am pretty sure she would join me.

What's your most treasured personal possession?
My collection of cake stands. Each of them was a gift from someone I love. They remind me that every minute is worth celebrating.

Who's your favorite fictional hero?
Scarlett O’Hara, mainly because “Tomorrow is another day,” is a really good recipe for life.

Who do you most admire in real-life?
Anyone who starts a business from scratch, because it is really hard. I had no idea! But I have loved every minute of it. I am in awe of those who have created enterprises significant enough to make major shifts in the way we live.

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