WC Charity Gets a Cool $1 Million from Former Paradigm Chairman/CEO

08 May, 2019 Nancy Grover

                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) - At the 2011 RIMS conference, the audience was asked how many knew of a charity called Kids’ Chance. About 20 people raised their hands. Times have changed.

“If you asked now, you’d get just the opposite response,” said James Hudak. “I think it’s become the industry charity. It’s a great way to make a difference in the lives of these children who’ve had terrible things happen through no fault of their own. It’s a great charity.”

Hudak is, as they say, putting his money where his mouth is. At the just-concluded Kids’ Chance of America annual conference, it was announced that he has created a $1 million endowment for the non-profit organization.

“It’s the First endowment. Period,” Hudak said. “They didn’t have an endowment before; everything was raised. I want this organization to be sustained forever; the way universities do that – they have endowments. I wanted to start it with the hope that others would do something similar; maybe not the same amounts, but similar.”

Hudak and KCOA

Hudak’s history with the workers’ compensation system began in 2010 when he was asked to join the board of Paradigm Outcomes.  A year later, the company tapped him to fill the vacant CEO position. It was about that time that someone from Kids’ Chance visited the company and talked about the non-profit organization’s efforts to provide college funding for the sons and daughters of workers killed or severely injured on the job.

“At Paradigm, the business is managing the care of catastrophically injured workers,” he said. “In the ICU … these workers realize their lives will be different, and the first question is usually, ‘what’s going to happen to my kids? Will they have a future?’ Kids’ Chance gives them that future. It seemed like an absolutely natural fit.”

The company made a significant donation to the non-profit, with the understanding that some of it would be used to create a national infrastructure. At the time, Kids’ Chance operated in about 15 states; but there was no consistency.

With the development of the national Kids’ Chance of America, the organization has grown and now has chapters in nearly every jurisdiction. Last year, the charity gave out about $2.5 million in scholarships.

“It has really taken off due to the infrastructure and the great volunteers,” Hudak said. “It’s tough for a not-for-profit. You don’t want to spend money on administration, but if you don’t, you don’t grow the way KCOA did.”

Fast forward to last October when Paradigm was sold. “I made a very nice amount of money on the sale,” Hudak said. I thought, “’what’s the best way to give back to the industry that allowed me to be so successful?’ I couldn’t think of anything better.”

As Hudak explained, national and state organizations may see themselves as competing for dollars. “If the national had an endowment, they wouldn’t have to do fundraising; that was my hope,” he said.

Some of the money will be used to provide scholarships which he’s dubbed, the ‘Jim and Sally Scholarship.’

What’s Next

An item on the agenda at the next KCOA board meeting is discussion of setting up an endowment committee. The idea is to persuade others to follow suit.

“We’re going to go to people in the industry who have done well, and we’re going to ask people to contribute to the endowment,” he said.  “I have a list of people I want to go after.”

In the meantime, Hudak now spends his time as the treasurer-tax collector for Napa County, Calif. It’s in an area where he’s had a vacation home and now lives.

“The reason I’m not retired is because what I want to do is make a diff in the world,” he said. “My parents were in public service. You want your community [to be] a better place after you’re gone. That’s what I wanted to do with workers’ compensation. And I can’t think of a better way to do that.”

 


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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for WorkersCompensation.com. She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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