Laura Wells McKnight

Author & Entrepreneur

Laura is an author and co-founder of Mulberry South, a media and education company focused on philanthropy and social responsibility as opportunities for business and personal growth. Mulberry South’s work is based on the industry’s best practices and the work of philanthropy’s most forward-thinking leaders.

From 2001 to 2012, Laura held a variety of positions at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., including serving as its president and CEO from 2006 to 2012. The foundation manages more than $1.5 billion in charitable assets. Prior to joining the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, Laura practiced law at the Kansas City firm of Spencer Fane Britt & Browne, specializing in tax, estate planning and charitable giving. Laura earned a degree in philosophy at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a law degree from the University Of Kansas School of Law, where she served as managing editor of the Kansas Law Review and a member of Order of the Coif. Laura and her husband live in Leawood, Kansas. They have five daughters. It is never dull!

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! Which means it’s got plenty of room for my girls and me to work on projects, read books, write stories, talk about school, draw pictures, bake cakes and dream up new ways to be inspired to make the most of every minute.

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

Where's your favorite place outside of Kansas City?
Palo Alto, California, where I lived when I was very small. As much as I like to be home with my family, I will never complain about a business trip that takes me to Silicon Valley.

What's your most treasured personal possession?
My collection of cake stands. Not that I have much time to bake anymore, but instead because each of them was a gift from someone I love, and 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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