Black Philanthropy Month Donor Profile: Rose Andom
Rose Andom Inspires With Her Professional, Philanthropic Journeys
When The Women’s Foundation of Colorado made 108 grants from our Women and Families of Colorado Relief Fund, we knew that organizations serving domestic violence survivors would be a focus. Financial stress and isolation heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic and were predicted to contribute to an increase and intensification of domestic violence.
Among the grantees WFCO funded was the Rose Andom Center, Colorado’s first family justice center. It is a centralized, collaborative facility where domestic violence victims can access comprehensive services in their journey to find safety from abuse.
Helping women in abusive relationships is deeply personal
Named after Denver entrepreneur and former McDonald’s franchise owner, Rose Andom, the Denver organization accommodated more than 4,000 client visits in 2019. Rose is one of Colorado’s leading philanthropists, whose lead gift of $1 million launched the community resource in 2016. Having her name on the building represents more than her financial contribution; she is a survivor herself. As a child who witnessed domestic violence perpetrated by her father against her mother, and later experienced it in her own marriage, helping women in abusive relationships is deeply personal.
The public exposure of naming rights was not an easy decision for Rose, who prefers to stay in the background and often gives anonymously. However, she acknowledges, “It fills me with a lot of pride. If my mother were still alive, she would be so proud of me. That I accomplished enough to do something like that, especially starting out where we started, living on welfare.”
“It fills me with a lot of pride. If my mother were still alive, she would be so proud of me. That I accomplished enough to do something like that, especially starting out where we started, living on welfare.”
As a Black woman entrepreneur, there were dark days
Indeed, Rose’s professional journey is as inspirational as her philanthropic journey. Rose was the first person in her family to graduate from college, and she also earned her MBA. It was while she was living on her cousin’s couch after fleeing her abusive marriage that she found a job at McDonald’s. She ascended from assistant manager, to restaurant manager, to area supervisor, business consultant, training consultant, franchising manager, and ultimately, McDonald’s franchisee. After purchasing franchises in Kansas City and California, Rose acquired the prominent locations inside Denver International Airport in 2000.
As a Black woman entrepreneur, she admits that there were dark days.
“When I bought my first restaurant in Kansas City, things did not turn out very well for me,” she said. “It took eight years before I even got to Denver as an owner and a few years beyond that to get the businesses to where I wanted them to be. There were a lot of people who didn’t think I would be successful. They didn’t know me. I had my mother as a very good example. There were days when I worked from open to close, but I just never gave up.”
To other women of color business owners struggling during the pandemic, Rose encourages them to, “Persevere and pray. I spent a lot of time doing both of those when it was difficult.”
Building a philanthropic legacy that reflects her own history and values
During those days, becoming a philanthropist wasn’t something that Rose envisioned in her own future. She was consumed with her businesses, which she sold in 2015. But she is now retired and focused on giving back to the community impactfully, such as making the lead gift for the Rose Andom Center.
The center had been a passion of hers for several years after a meeting with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, whose sister was killed in an act of domestic violence. They both imagined a family justice center where “a family can go and access all the agencies they need right there, instead of going to 10 different ones.” She committed to making it a reality for Denver women who were domestic violence survivors.
In addition to the Rose Andom Center, she gives to other Colorado organizations that impact women and children positively, such as WFCO. For this year’s Annual Luncheon, Rose generously made a gift that will match every dollar donated up to $50,000, as well as an additional $40,000 gift to support our general operating.
“I just believe in what you do, and I believe in Lauren,” said Rose. “WFCO’s principles are very aligned with my own. I envision a future where women are fully respected in the workplace and won’t face discrimination in any setting. There are too many people out there who feel that certain lives aren’t equal to others.”
As Rose continues to build a philanthropic legacy that reflects her own history and values, she says, “I would like to be remembered as someone who gave back, someone who didn’t just take.”