Friendship Inspires Leadership Endowment

A generous legacy gift of $50,000 from the estate of former Bloomington, Illinois resident and business leader, Susan M. Noble, created a new endowment for the Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) at the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation.

The Susan M. Noble Endowment was inspired by Noble’s friendship with Sonya Mau, who currently serves as MCLP Executive Director. When MCLP began in 2009-10, Mau shared with Noble her excitement about the newly formed local program for developing community leaders.

Susan Noble was an IBM consultant who worked with Mau on a project at COUNTRY Financial in the 1980’s. Noble moved to Chicago, serving as CEO of a small insurance company, and then on to Austin, Texas, while Mau continued to work in Bloomington. Despite miles of separation, the two women maintained their friendship, sharing conversations about topics important to one another, including their increasing community involvements.

“Susan had such a strong tradition of caring about others throughout her lifetime,” said Mau. “She was involved in Austin’s Women-to-Women Fund. So I joined our local community foundation’s women-to-women fund. I was involved with MCLP and talked often with Susan about the MCLP dream of developing strong, self-confident leaders with a passion to serve and empower multiple perspectives.”

As a successful business leader, Noble supported MCLP because she understood both the value of the organization and its importance to her friend. During her lifetime, Noble made gifts of scholarships for MCLP participants who otherwise could not have participated in the program.

After her friend’s death in 2011, Mau was humbled to learn that Noble left a $50,000 endowment to benefit MCLP for years to come. “Susan’s gift is an example of how MCLP resonates even beyond those directly involved with the program,” said Mau.

Noble’s gift is an unrestricted endowment for MCLP.  According to Myra Gordon, the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation Executive Director, proceeds from the fund’s earnings will be available to MCLP for annual scholarships, guest speakers, and other program costs.

MCLP founder, Phani Aytam, noted that the gift will be instrumental to the leadership program’s continued success: “Susan M. Noble’s legacy will live on as increasing numbers of MCLP graduates take their places as leaders in the Bloomington-Normal community. Her gift of this fund is truly life-changing for MCLP participants and for the program.”

The Illinois Prairie Community Foundation is working to build endowments for local organizations and encourages legacy gifts through estate planning and lifetime giving, explained foundation Executive Director, Myra Gordon. “It makes a true community impact when individuals make endowed gifts during their lifetimes or establish them in their wills or estates, to support forever the wonderful organizations in our communities.”

For more information about establishing endowments and legacy gifts through the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, contact the foundation at or 309-662-4477. For more information about MCLP, contact Executive Director, Sonya Mau, at or 309-438-3417.

See related September 20, 2012 article at