Alumna sets up planned gift to encourage students to consider public service careers

Nov. 22, 2019 — Linda Neal ’67 attended Grinnell College during a tumultuous time when student activism was a strong theme on many college campuses.

As an activist with a passion for politics and public service herself, she has established a planned gift that will provide Grinnell students direct exposure to people whose lives have been devoted to public service. She has set up a bequest for the Neal Public Service Fund to benefit Grinnell’s Program in Practical Political Education.

Linda Neal '67
   Linda Neal ’67

“I want Grinnell students to see that public servants should be seen as our heroes, and that public service is as admirable a career as academia, law, or medicine,” she says. “By bringing people with life experience on campus, students can examine, explore, and understand that public service is a satisfying and productive career.”

It was the Program in Practical Political Education that initially lured Neal to Grinnell. The PPPE facilitated student involvement in politics in the 1960s. “The College brought in current and retired public servants in the 1960s, like Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman, and the governor of Iowa, and we got to talk with them about their life in politics or public service,” Neal says.

PPPE was revived in 2018 and revised goals for the program include promoting interest in public service at Grinnell and enhancing the free flow of ideas important for strengthening U.S. democracy.

“It was my initial ambition to be in politics, but that didn’t work out,” Neal says. “But I did go to law school, and I’m still very active in my community, and so I just wanted to make sure something similar to PPPE will be functioning and will bring people to campus who have dedicated their lives to public service.

To make the planned gift, Neal is utilizing her entire SEP/IRA as a funding method.

“Everyone’s IRA or SEP IRA is 100% taxable income, unless you leave it entirely to a non-profit organization,” she says. “So 100 percent of the IRA value when I die is set up to go directly to the College with no federal income tax paid. It’s an ideal vehicle for a bequest, because it will provide the full value of the IRA, with no income tax burden.”

Neal has held multiple careers during her lifetime. She joined the Peace Corp immediately after graduation from Grinnell, and then she drifted through marketing research, retail and wholesale sales, and sales administration. “Then, because I enjoyed money management, I spent 20 years in financial services with my own business in insurance and equities,” she says. “That led me to law school at age 46. And by the way, my Grinnell credential held up very well. The law school said ‘Oh, you won’t have any problem since you’re a Grinnell grad.’”

Neal hopes Grinnell students will realize they don’t need to make lifetime career choices at age 22.

“Your Grinnell diploma can allow you to enjoy a varied career path,” she says.

—by Lisa Shapiro

For your information:

To learn more about options for planned gifts, contact Buddy Boulton, Grinnell College director of planned giving, at or 641-269-3248.

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive.