Philanthropist Mary Burke believes everybody deserves a chance to be successful

Nathan Comp:

The phone call came late one afternoon last March. Rachel Krinsky — then the executive director for the Road Home, a nonprofit agency serving homeless families in Dane County — was preparing to meet with the board of directors, which had recently voted to end a three-year campaign to raise money to build apartments for homeless families.
Having fallen $900,000 short of its fundraising goal, the board decided to build seven apartment units instead of the 15 it had sought, meaning eight families would remain on the street. “We had been fundraising for a long time and were out of ideas,” Krinsky recalls. “Everyone was tapped out.”
On the phone was Mary Burke, a wealthy 52-year-old philanthropist and former business executive, calling with unexpected news: She wanted to give the $450,000 needed to build those eight additional units. (The remaining $450,000 was an endowment goal.)
Krinsky’s jaw dropped.
“I was just stunned,” she says. “Mary wasn’t even in our database.”

Burke announced recently that she plans to run for one of two Madison School Board seats on the April, 2012 ballot.