When Bette LaCombe moved to Las Vegas in 2002, she gave herself five years to figure out if this city could ever feel like home. It took just half that long for the retired IBM executive, who had worked in London, Paris and New York, to decide that it was time to put down roots and tap into Las Vegas's unique culture.
"My husband, Paul, and I stayed minimally involved at first," she recollects. "But once we realized this was the place we wanted to return to after our travels, we knew it was home. We wanted to learn as much as possible about our new town."
What Bette learned was that the cultural connections she made in Las Vegas were in some way also connected to UNLV. She found herself frequently on campus for Barrick Lectures, Nevada Conservatory Theatre performances and classical concerts at Ham Hall. Her interest in Las Vegas history and her role as docent at the Neon Museum led to her discovery of UNLV Special Collections at Lied Library.
She now volunteers on the UNLV University Libraries Advisory Board.
"I feel as if I've come full circle. As a board member, I'm able to use my IBM finance and marketing experience to bring a business perspective to the table. I'm the one who can answer, 'Does this idea make financial sense?'"
Her involvement with UNLV Libraries has also shaped her insight into how she can make a difference.
"When we do budgets, I see that some requests can be fulfilled by small amounts of money. If everybody made just a small donation, it would have a very large effect. Every dollar counts."
The savvy business strategist is also strategic about her personal giving.
"Throughout my life, beyond my family, what has been important to me has been to invest my time and energy into my community," she reflects. "So when I did my will, I decided to bequeath some money to nonprofits like UNLV that do terrific work. I want to make sure they continue to do terrific work after I'm gone."
"The number one reason I give," she adds, "is because I'm lucky that I'm able to."