Former NACD CEO Ken Daly Remembered

By Peter R. Gleason


Online Article Corporate Governance

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Ken Daly passed away on June 14, 2021. Ken served as CEO of NACD from 2007 to 2017 after retiring from KPMG. I first had the privilege of working with Ken when he led KPMG’s Audit Committee Institute and then again when he moved on to join NACD as CEO.

While Ken was of average stature, he was larger than life. His affable demeanor, quick sense of humor, and deep commitment to whatever he chose to be involved with made his personality truly infectious. Through his insightful encouragement, he had a way of making you feel proud of your accomplishments and determined to do more. He wanted NACD to be the best it could possibly be, and he pushed us to achieve that. He would name a future goal—like Babe Ruth pointing past the fence—and he would inspire us to knock it out of the park. He led NACD through a period of tremendous growth in membership, revenue, and reputation. It has been my honor to succeed him as CEO of this great organization.

Many will remember Ken for his drive, but he had a softer side that his friends were lucky to see. He boasted of his family—his incredible wife Donna, his two sons, Matt and Andy, and his grandchildren, who affectionately called him Poppi. He always said that “family comes first” and encouraged all of us to focus on the things that are really important in life. He was a man of deep faith, even delivering sermons in his church—in his own special way. He once led a service where he handed out mirrors to everyone attending church that Sunday and had the church band learn the Michael Jackson song “Man in the Mirror.” He even learned how to “moon walk” and did so in front of the congregation while the band played. Yes, he definitely had a flair for the dramatic, and he always infused a little wry humor in everything he did. He also had a penchant for obscure sayings or phrases. “Whackadoodle,” “goat rodeo,” “tougher than woodpecker lips,” and “two oil barrels and a goat head” come to mind. Someday, I’ll figure out where he came up with all of those, but I can remember him chewing on a cigar and smiling as he wove them into his conversations.

I was privileged to call Ken my friend. Over the decades that I knew him, he helped me through many tough situations, both personally and professionally. For that, I am forever grateful. To call him a mentor is an understatement. I know that many in our membership may never have met Ken, and for that I’m sorry. For those of you who did, I’m sure you have your own memorable experiences to share. I, for one, will miss my friend and hope that, in partnership with our staff, chapters, and you—our esteemed members—we will carry on Ken’s dream of an NACD that lights the way for directors and boards across this country and beyond.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as we mourn his passing and celebrate his life. His obituary and information about services for Ken can be found here.

Peter Gleason
Peter R. Gleason is president and CEO of NACD.