As Michael and Guadalupe Dean stand in front of the new library art rendering they feel it an honor for them to be a part of Donnelly College 30 million dollar capital improvement project. They want to do their part by contributing funding to the new library that will bear their name, The Dean-Lozoya Family Academic Resource Center.



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE


As owners of the Mi Rancho Tequila Company, Michael and Guadalupe Dean have been quiet donors to many causes in the Kansas City Metro area. They’re behind the scenes philanthropy was in public display early this past month at a special ceremony at the Mexican Consulate offices in downtown Kansas City.


The occasion was the unveiling of the new name of the Donnelly College library, in part honoring a contribution the couple made to the college. The building is a part of an ongoing three phases, 30 million dollar capital improvement project.


The college was founded in 1949 and has been named as the most diverse college in the entire Midwest, as stated by US News & World Report. The composition of the student body is 40% Latino, 30 % Black and a mix of Southeast Asian students with roots from many countries such as Burma.


Carlos Gomez, president of the Greater Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, talked of the support the Deans have provided over the years. Gomez helped overcome the Dean’s reticence when it comes to public recognition by convincing them of the importance of the gift to Donnelly.


“They have always given without people knowing,” said Gomez. “They were willing to be public after realizing that they wanted the students that come to the university to see a Latino name on one of the buildings and in particular the library,” recalled Gomez.


A Camargo, Chihuahua, Mexico native, Guadalupe Dean talked about what made philanthropy such a staple of the family’s psyche. She recalled a lady in the community that helped the youth of the town that were beset by drug addiction problems.


She remembered talking to her, “I told her I wanted to help youth, and she said ‘but we need to help those that are having problems with drug addiction.’ I told her, ‘of course it is good to help drug addicted children, but would it not be better to help the youth so that they don’t end up becoming drug addicts?’ She told me, the human being is soul, mind and body. If a person is missing any of that, we are always going to make errors. We are going to make mistakes.”


That conversation has been at the heart of the Dean’s philanthropy. The family owned business is a unique enterprise. The business introduced its product on 2017. The tequila is made from 100% blue agave. It is bottled and shipped from Jalisco, Mexico and available in the blanco, reposado and añejo versions. The success of their business has put them in a position of being able to give back.


Guadalupe sits on Donnelly’s board of directors and has been intimately involved in the capital campaign.


“One of the things that I like about being on the board of directors of Donnelly College is the idea that we can find God close to us. That is where I found myself, because it addresses all the things that make up the human being,” explained Guadalupe. “We are not always perfect. We have made mistakes. We come from families that need help. … I am very proud to be Mexican, but I also feel very privileged to be here in Kansas City, which I can now consider as my second home.”


Michel Dean grounds the couple’s philanthropy in a mantra he heard at a news conference. “They talked about the imaginative vision. A culture and society always needs an imaginative vision. When they lose that vision they fall immediately into chaos. I don’t know where we are in the imaginative vision. … They say the vision is obtained again when someone comes forward and sets the new imaginative vision. … It is this occasion that we can set forth the new imaginative vision by using a college that is 40% Hispanic.”


Monsignor Stewart Swetland, president of Donnelly College, talked of the vision that led to the founding of the school and what has made it central to the Latino community.


“Sister Jerome Keeler had a vision of educating people who were the first in their families to go to college. She wanted to have an educational institution that would remove all the obstacles that might keep someone from going on to college. … With the new wave of immigrants that came into our area to build up this community so well in the 1980’s, it also became a Latino serving institution.” Alfonso


Navarro-Bernachi, Mexican Consul here in Kansas City, said, “I have gotten to know Michael (Dean), as an entrepreneur, as an exporter of the best of Mexico, and as an active member of the community. I know them for the love he and his family… have for their community, this place they call home here in Kansas City, Kansas and for the place of their birth, Mexico.” Navarro-Bernachi added, “This occasion is also an opportunity to highlight one of the many contributions that Mexican Americans make to the communities they call home, regardless of their country of origin or their immigration status.”


Ramiro Cavazos, CEO, of the national Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, echoed Navarro-Bernachi, comments. “The Latino community is the economic engine of America’s future. We need to invest in our young people. Education is a great equalizer in our society. There is no secret about what makes someone successful. … Our future as the greatest nation and strongest economy in the world depends on the Latino businesses success but also in making investment in education for the future. … You can’t be successful if you can’t tie a vision with a plan and make it a reality, and that is the miracle and that Michael and Guadalupe have talked about.”


Archbishop Joseph F. Nauman of the diocese of Kansas City in Kansas spoke to the college’s mission and history. “In the United States there are only 11 Catholic Colleges that are sponsored by dioceses, most are sponsored by religious orders such as Jesuits or Benedictines. … none of those have the history of seeking to serve those who are the first in their family to go to college to be able to get a college education. … as a church we are very proud of this mission.”


“We are grateful to Donnelly College for the opportunity to put our family name … on a library, which is the fundamental basis of an education. It is the place where the books are,” said Guadalupe Dean.