Carolyn Benthien: Growing organizations
GOFFSTOWN — Nonprofit organizations across the state have an ally in Granite State Legacy Award honoree Carolyn Benthien.
Benthien, who before retiring had been chief executive officer for three United Ways, including 11 years at the United Way of Greater Manchester, owns Benthien Associates. There, with her husband, Randy, who is a partner in the firm, she guides nonprofit organizations in everything from strategic planning to governance and fundraising.
"I see fundraising as relationship-building," she said. "It doesn't happen overnight. You set objectives and you grow relationships with people to tell your story. I help teach them how to tell their stories."
As evidenced by her long list of accomplishments, it is clear Benthien is a doer. She has served as a member of more than 45 boards of directors throughout her career and on occasion has been the first female on the roster.
She was the first woman admitted into the Manchester Rotary Club, in 1987, a decision that Benthien said generated much debate within the group.
"At that time, Rotary Clubs and Kiwanis Clubs didn't even let women in," she said, but she eventually went on to become the first woman president of Manchester Rotary, in 1996.
Benthien is also the founder of both Leadership Manchester and Leadership New Hampshire, serving as a member of both original boards. The organizations work to strengthen communities by increasing civic engagement through a year-long educational program.
Benthien was on the founding boards of the Women's Fund of New Hampshire, the Mary and John Elliot Charitable Foundation, and the Manchester Area Regional Community Foundation.
"I've really enjoyed that role of being in at the beginning of things and watching organizations bloom," Benthien said.
She has received many awards for her efforts, including the Paul Harris Fellowship Award from Manchester Rotary, the Pastoral Counseling Services' Good Samaritan Award, the Human Service Medal from Notre Dame College, the Key to the City of Manchester, the Woman of Achievement Award from the Business and Professional Women's Association, and the Nashua YWCA Distinguished Woman Leader Award.
Benthien said she was shocked to learn she was chosen as one of the five people to receive a Legacy Award this year. The award is presented by the New Hampshire Union Leader and sponsored by Centrix Bank.
"I thought it was a mistake," she said. "But to see the company I'm in, it is really wonderful."
At Benthien Associates, whose clients include Easter Seals of New Hampshire, the Moore Center and New Hampshire Catholic Charities, Benthien often works in the background so her clients are able to shine.
"Sometimes you don't know I'm there," she said. "I'm doing the work with people behind the scenes, but there is this joy I have of watching something turn out just as I'd hoped."
Benthien said she remains enthusiastic in her work because of the opportunity to learn something from her clients every day.
"The greatest reward is watching an organization and its leadership grow," she said. "Hopefully, they come out stronger than when I started with them."
Benthien, of Goffstown, has two adult children and recently welcomed her first grandchild.