Chris Richards — LGM03 graduate and Vice Chancellor Emeritus for UW–Stevens Point — likes to share an important lesson he’s learned in life. “So often you make all the plans and take all of the steps, but things take unexpected burns and you discover that the effort pays off in a totally unexpected way.” In other words, life and leadership are often messy.
Chris shared his observations and experiences with Lynn Wood (LGM12) and Jenn Krebs (LGM28) as part of an LGMAA Lead from Where You Are podcast. Chris began his career as a journalist with Wisconsin Public Radio and after several years transitioned into development and fundraising. That’s where he found his passion. He supported higher education in development and fundraising for more than 23 years at the UW–Madison Foundation and for 10 years after that at UW–Stevens Point.
Chris explained that the skills he learned as a journalist — communicating, convening, listening, following up and motivating — continued to serve him as he moved from one career path to another. He says as long as someone is actively engaged and always learning, unexpected miracles can happen. But it’s important for leaders to stay true to your intentions and values and be able to adjust when life gets messy and throws adversity and challenges your way.
In addition to begin adaptable, Chris says leaders must be empathetic. For Chris, leadership means focusing more on other people than on yourself and finding ways to be as concerned about others’ lives as you are about your own. That kind of focus and commitment can give meaning to the messiest moment.
ABOUT CHRIS RICHARDS
Chris Richards is passionate about supporting higher education and nonprofits. Chris currently shares his expertise as a capital campaign consultant for nonprofit organizations and is a consultant in nonprofit development, leadership development and executive coaching. He retired n 2022 as the UW–Stevens Point Vice Chancellor for University Advancement and the Executive Director of the UWSP Foundation. He is a proud UW–Stevens Point alumnus.
Chris called Madison home for many years. After a stint as a producer, news anchor and general assignment reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio, Chris moved into fundraising for WPR, securing corporate support for the statewide radio network. After nearly five years in that capacity, he joined the UW Foundation as director of development for the UW Law School. For more than 23 years, he worked closely with a portfolio of major donors as a development director, managed a $1.86 billion capital campaign, and been part of the UW Foundation leadership team, ultimately serving as a vice president.
But when the opportunity arose, Chris jumped at the chance to return to his alma mater. “Being able to provide opportunities for future generations of Pointers excites me,” Chris said when he joined UWSP in 2012.
A graduate of Stevens Point Area Senior High, Chris studied communication at UW-Stevens Point, was a manager at the campus radio station, WWSP, and participated in the university's study abroad program. He is a graduate of LGM03.