Dave Casper receives 2024 Andrew J. McKenna Leadership Award

David Casper (center) receives the 2024 Andrew J. McKenna Leadership Award, presented by Sean Garrett, President & CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago (left) and Linda Coberly, United Way of Metro Chicago Board Chair (right).

David Casper at Invest South/West announcement

In 2019, David Casper announces BMO’s $10 million investment in United Way’s Neighborhood Networks alongside the launch of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West.

On David Casper’s first day of work at Harris Bank, he attended orientation for new staff and was handed a card. He was asked to pledge a portion of his paycheck to United Way of Metro Chicago. On that day in 1978, David’s decades-long relationship with United Way began.

The Wisconsin native grew up in Milwaukee and attended Dartmouth College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. A Midwesterner at heart, David left the East Coast after graduation and moved to Chicago. He was soon hired by Harris Bank, kicking off a 45-year career there and later BMO, which acquired Harris Bank in 1984.

David took night classes at Northwestern University, earning a Master of Management degree from Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He met his wife, Jane Casper, and settled in Chicago. All the while, David continued to donate to United Way as he deepened his roots in the city he now called home – and desired to make a difference.

“I saw the difference in resources and disinvestment among the neighborhoods in Chicago,” David said. “If we can support the people living and working in those neighborhoods and give them the resources they need, that in the long run will make such an impact.”

As David’s philanthropic spirit continued to grow, his career blossomed. After leading BMO Harris Bank’s U.S. commercial and investment banking businesses, David became U.S. CEO in 2018. One of his proudest moments as CEO was overseeing three major acquisitions – and significant expansion of BMO’s clients and staff. With growth came the opportunity to mold BMO’s culture and reaffirm the company’s role in community impact.

“We built a culture of doing well financially for the company and individuals while also doing good in communities,” David said. “People want more than just a job. They want to work for a company that shares their values, shares their sense of purpose and their willingness to do good. We have a motto, to boldly grow the good in business in and life. I’m proud of the culture, and I’m proud of our staff.”

David lives out “bolding growing the good in business and life” through his longstanding partnership with United Way. From donor to executive volunteer, David strengthened his commitment to furthering United Way’s work by serving on the organization’s Board of Directors for eight years. He also signed on as United Way’s Campaign Chair in 2019 – 2020. That year, he oversaw BMO’s $10 million investment in United Way’s Neighborhood Networks, a gift focusing on development in the Austin community and made alongside the launch of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West.

“Economic inclusion and strong neighborhoods go hand in hand,” David said at the press conference in October 2019, announcing the first corporate investment in Invest South/West. “As an institution with deep Chicago roots, we consider it our responsibility to boldly grow the good across the city, and that includes building strong, resilient neighborhoods.”

Under David’s steadfast leadership, BMO has been United Way of Metro Chicago’s #1 corporate partner for the past 10 years, donating more than $74 million directly to United Way. “We’re really proud that more than 90% of our employees participate in employee giving through United Way,” David said.

In recognition of his commitment to improving the quality of life for countless individuals and families in the Chicago region and serving as a philanthropic leader and mentor, David Casper received the 2024 Andrew J. McKenna Leadership Award at United Way of Metro Chicago’s annual Stronger Neighborhoods Awards Luncheon on May 30, 2024.

The award is especially meaningful to David who knew the incomparable Andy McKenna – and is inspired by his legacy of giving back.

“I miss Andy every day. He was dedicated to doing the right thing and being generous,” David said. “I think everyone who knew him felt like he was their mentor, and he really was. He was genuinely interested in everyone’s careers.”

Today, while he still serves as Chairman of the Board of BMO Financial Corp, David is retired from full-time work. He is thrilled to spend more time with his wife, three daughters, and two granddaughters. Seeking recognition for his storied career and deep impact in the Chicago region is not in David’s nature. Making him all the more deserving of the award.

“My success is largely due to my wife, Jane, and our three daughters who have kept me honest,” David said. “I’m more than humbled to receive the Andrew J. McKenna Leadership Award. I don’t belong in that league, but I’m honored.”

 

 

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