In May of 2022, Benedictine College’s Byron G. Thompson Center for Integrity in Finance and Economics awarded its annual Thompson Medal to Ken Williams, CFO of engineering firm Black & Veatch. This award, given in conjunction with Country Club Bank of Kansas City, recognizes an individual in business who exemplifies integrity and competence, as well as making significant contributions to both their sphere of business and their community.
Williams was chosen not only because of his competence in his work at Black & Veatch, where he is responsible for establishing corporate financial policies, but also for his work in the world of non-profit business. Between his stints in the for-profit world, he served for five years as the CEO of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, where he and his team served the needs of people in 21 counties. He also spent time as the CFO of World Vision International, a $3 billion non-profit organization focused on addressing poverty around the world, specifically assisting children in need. Williams is also a new member of Benedictine College’s Board of Directors.
Paul Thompson, CEO and Chairman of Country Club Bank and son of the Thompson Center’s namesake Byron Thompson, reminded attendees that the purpose of the Thompson Medal is to inspire young Benedictine students to be “faith-filled people of integrity whose own principled leadership will leave an indelibly positive impact on the world around them.”
One of those students, Jake Thompson, spoke at the event to attest to the inspiring work of both Thompson Center and the whole of Benedictine’s Business Department. Jake, grandson of Byron Thompson, highlighted the investment of the Business Department’s professors in their students, as well as the department’s rich integrity and commitment to free markets and virtue. He expressed his gratitude to the Thompson Center for both the resources it provides to his growth as a young businessman, as well as the constant reminder it provides of his grandfather’s strength and integrity.
The award program for the evening also included a hopeful keynote address from Thomas M. Hoenig, 2019 Thompson Medal winner. Hoenig is former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and served more recently as the vice chairman of the FDIC. Throughout his speech, Hoenig highlighted the challenges of our current economy, both avoidable and unavoidable. He insightfully compared the current economic climate to that of the 1970s, explaining the challenges of that decade as well.
Hoenig not only observed problems, but also suggested a few solutions, including a suggestion for greater collaboration in our divided government. He spoke for all Americans on this topic, saying “I think the American people are ready for some cooperation, are needing it, and it’s key to solving the inflationary problem.” Though his keynote primarily laid out the economic challenges of the present moment, his overall tone was one of hope. He encouraged those in attendance, saying “the challenges are there, but we can do it.”
This tone of hope was present elsewhere in the program as well. Stephen D. Minnis, President of Benedictine College, emphasized the light that Benedictine has been in the challenges which have faced the American people since the College’s founding in 1858. He reminded those in attendance where to place their hope for the future, saying “the hope for this country lies in our young people, and Benedictine College, along with the Thompson Center, will equip graduates with the skills and understanding to take up leadership positions in society and help transform culture in America.”