Alumnus Marc Gall, Rada Award recipient, shares insights in Q & A
Marc Gall, ’03, received the Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award in September 2018, one of the top awards bestowed by the UWL Alumni Association. The Rada award recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities.
Gall, vice president of BOK Financial in Milwaukee, started giving financially to UWL very early in his career, creating and funding two scholarship endowments.
“So many people wait until they think they have everything they want out of life to give,” says Gall. “I felt it was important to give early in my career. I think I live pretty simply and I had the things I felt that I needed.”
Today Gall regularly participates in reviewing the applications for the scholarships he created and receives letters from recipients.
“That is a benefit of giving back early — you get to see your investment in action,” he says.
Q: What is one of the most powerful lessons you’ve learned in life?
A: You can achieve work-life balance. I’ve invested time and energy into my career, but I wouldn’t say my career defines me as a person. I strive to make sure I spend time on things that matter to me. I’m a father and spending time with my family is important to me. My friends are important to me. I also have a passion for traveling internationally.
I think we should not sacrifice things that are important to us for career or financial gain. I believe that it is possible to have a work-life balance. If that is important to you, the key is finding an employer that allows for flexibility and encourages a well-balanced approach to life.
Q: As a banker you know a lot about financial investments. What other kinds of investments are you glad you’ve made?
A: I’ve continued to make investments in myself through education. A knowledge base is something that can’t be taken away from you. While formal education can make you more marketable to an employer, informal education like reading or talking to others about topics outside of your career, may help shape your worldview and keep life interesting.
I went back for my master’s degree in business part time, nights at Marquette University. Money I could have spent on a vacations or other things, I decided was better spent on graduate school. I also attended graduate school of banking at UW-Madison.
Q: How did you develop a philosophy of giving back?
A: Giving back is part of my faith and I’ve followed the example set by my parents in that regard. But my time at UWL also shaped my views about philanthropy. I was a treasurer for a variety of student organizations — like Campus Activities Board and National Residence Hall Honorary — and managing the finances of these organizations is how I learned to think about managing my own finances. I don’t think of it as, “All of this money I have is just mine — for myself.” Instead, I think, “I’m tasked with thinking about the best purpose of my financial resources.” I want to try to give money back to things that will make a long-lasting impact like endowed scholarships. They continue to give for years and years to come.
I’ve also learned that while I have the ability to give back with financial gifts, it is not always about giving money — time and effort can be just as valuable. Each person has unique ways they can give back. Finding causes or organizations that align with your passion can be very rewarding.
Gall established two UWL scholarships
Marc Gall created the Salt and Light Award for Excellence in Christian Leadership and worked with the family of Jason Letizia, ’03, a friend and fellow alumnus who died in 2015, to establish the Jason Letizia Learn Strong Scholarship.
Students benefit from the award too
The Rada Distinguished Alumni Award includes a scholarship/fellowship of $2,000 presented to a current student in a department of the recipient’s choosing. Gall selected Kitt Drewiske, a public health and community health education major, who led a spring break service group trip to Guatemala to build smoke-free stoves in homes and schools. Gall said he wanted to find a student who was invested in traveling to different regions and making the world a better place. Drewiske fit the bill.
This story ran in the spring 2019 issue of Building Bridges.