When Tammy Buchert's children went off to college, she, like many empty-nester parents, found herself with the unfamiliar challenge of having free time in her life to fill.
Wanting to use that time to give back to her community, she sought out opportunities to get involved with area nonprofit organizations. With a personal interest in education, camping and the outdoors, and as a former Girl Scout leader, she found just what she was looking for in Camp Fire Minnesota
"Camp Fire Minnesota really focuses on helping youth find their spark through nature," says Buchert, the chief administrative officer of RBC Wealth Management-U.S. "It's all about environmental education and helping kids get out into nature who don't otherwise have the opportunity to do so."
In May 2021, Buchert joined Camp Fire Minnesota's Board of Directors. As a board member, she uses her time and resources—including the funding and employee volunteers from RBC Wealth Management—to help support Camp Fire Minnesota's mission of connecting thousands of youth each year with nature-based experiences.
"Being a board member is more than just the formal board meetings or fundraisers—it's also doing what I can when I see a need, or thinking of other ways to help," Buchert says. "It's fulfilling to be involved and to see what it means to kids who get to experience nature through Camp Fire's programs."
Buchert is one of seven RBC Wealth Management executives who serve on the boards of Twin Cities-area nonprofits. Through that involvement with organizations focused on community health, education, the arts and more, those executives help lead the way when it comes to RBC Wealth Management's culture of giving back and supporting local communities.
Using a personal experience to help others
For Wally Chapman, director of RBC Wealth Management's central division, board service is personal.
Several years ago, Chapman's father was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, the second most common form of degenerative dementia after Alzheimer's. As he and his family set out on the difficult path of understanding the disease and doing what they could to help his father, Chapman was introduced to the Alzheimer's Association
In July 2021, he joined the board of the Alzheimer's Association's Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter and also serves with his wife Eva as co-chair of the chapter's 2022 fundraising gala. Like Buchert, during his first few months in the role, he's worked to help the organization in any way he can, whether through his personal resources or those of RBC Wealth Management. One of his focuses has been increasing RBC's presence and involvement at local fundraisers, including at the annual Twin Cities Walk to End Alzheimer's in September, where RBC Wealth Management raised $15,000 out of a nearly $1 million fundraising total.
Wally Chapman, second from right, at a recent Alzheimer's Association fundraising event with RBC Wealth Management colleagues.
Though Chapman isn't the only board member to have been impacted personally by the disease, he sees a lot of value in his ability to draw from his personal experience and previous interactions with the Alzheimer's Association.
"I hope I can be a better board member because I've seen firsthand the experience of this disease and the positive impact the Association can have on families," he says. "I've had people that I've met come around and support me, so my hope is, through the things that I learn and the people that I meet on the board, that I could be that support for somebody going through it in the future."
As he becomes more comfortable in the role, he also hopes to be able to use the Alzheimer's Association's many resources to help train RBC Wealth Management's financial advisors on how they can help families dealing with the disease.
"I believe that RBC owes it to our advisors to try and help them be better resources for clients and their families who are affected by Alzheimer's or dementia," Chapman says, "to know enough that we can be an advocate and help them."
An opportunity to make a difference
Vikesh Nemani would be the first to admit that, until recently, he didn't know much about the arts.
But despite that lack of familiarity, in March 2021 Nemani joined the board of the Walker Art Center
Nemani, the head of strategy for RBC Wealth Management, serves on the organization's art acquisition, compensation and finance committees, and has been involved with the creation of the Walker's five-year strategic plan. Through all of that, he's found himself more involved than he expected to be, usually at least a couple of hours per week.
Vikesh Nemani, far left, at a Walker Art Center fundraising event.
And despite not having any prior involvement with the arts, Nemani has been able to bring his finance background to help the Walker find new ways to grow revenue and increase spending in order to develop the art center's brand and reputation internationally, despite the continued challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Especially on the compensation and finance committees, and in working on the strategic plan, those are my strengths, so I feel like I have the opportunity to help make a difference for a very recognizable institution in this community," he says.
But, like Buchert with Camp Fire Minnesota and Chapman with the Alzheimer's Association, he doesn't see his board member role as simply a one-way street.
"I get more out of this than what I'm giving to it," Nemani says. "It's been really rewarding for me."
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