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A conversation with Karen Daniel: KC leader, part of Royals ownership

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Posted at 5:40 AM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 13:46:52-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Karen Daniel is known for her business and civic leadership in Kansas City, and now she is part of the ownership of the Kansas City Royals.

She credits her parents and family for setting great examples in business, as well as for her love of baseball and community.

Daniel's grandmother’s family games taught big lessons.

“Winning with grace, how do you handle losing and without being bitter, but mostly how do you enjoy your family,” she said.

Her grandfather not only taught her to love baseball but was also one of her first business role models, and she has fond childhood memories of visiting his store at 18th and Vine.

“He was big on your name and your reputation as all you really have. And when you think about the field that I went to work in auditing, and ultimately being a CFO, integrity is a given. It's paramount," Daniel said.

The retired Chief Financial Officer of Black & Veatch has served and continues to serve on several company and community boards. She is a former president of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Board of Commissioners and a former chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, winning the 2020 Athena Leadership Award.

Her work in the community continued to shape her.

"I became a better person watching what was going on at the Women's Employment Network," Daniel said about one of the many organizations she has served over the years. "It's all about breaking cycles."

That work in the community continues, especially after such a difficult year for so many.

"How do we bring people together? How do we give people workforce development so that everybody has a chance to prosper?" she said. "Education, I don't care where I go, it's going to end up being at the center."

It's all about getting to work.

"It has been a difficult year and when I think about racial equity, social justice, we have a lot of work to do," Daniel said. "For me, I had to take my own actions towards, 'What am I going to do with this, about this?' and I've doubled down if you will on helping remove barriers for the opportunity for racial equity."

She said it will take bold moves and difficult conversations.

"And it's clearly more than just the conversation. That's often the starting place but what are we going to do? What are we willing to do to make our community more harmonious and one that is suited for everybody who's in this community?" she said.

Daniel also talked about her experience in various board rooms and leadership positions during her career.

"You can become one of the role models if you will, but, you know, the truth is that anytime you're the only one, or one of a few, you feel like the light is shining on you. And for me, shine the light. I'm going to do the absolute best I can. And if that's not enough, we're gonna double down and do some more, just because I think it's a unique opportunity, one that I earned," she explained. "But when you can look around and see other women doing things on boards, whether it's race, gender, whatever it might be. It really gives people the inspiration to do it, but it also says to the folks who might be a little bit skittish about it, 'Maybe I can do this. Maybe we should do this more,' and now you can see that there are a lot of women who are beginning to be on boards and contribute in ways that they always could have, should have, but it wasn't always available."

For Daniel, it's also about building the future.

"Women's History Month is really, in my mind, about honoring those who helped us and who we respected and inspiring the next generations, so they can be sitting here 20 years from now, talking about baseball, not like it's almost an exception," she said.

Daniel has traveled the world for her work but she said her watch always stayed on Kansas City time because this is where her family is and it will always be home.

"On Opening Day, I'm going to be that six-year-old little girl. I'm going to enjoy every minute. And the flyover, again, that will be my mother and my grandparents, flying over this stadium. And I will never watch another Royals baseball game without their inspiration and deep deep gratitude that I could be a member of the owners group," she said.