2008 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Don’t let negative experiences dictate who you are."
Lee E. Mikles was born in 1955 to a young unwed mother in Heber Springs, Arkansas. With no spouse and only an eighth-grade education, she felt unable to provide for her infant and put him up for adoption. Lee was a ward of the state of Arkansas until age three, when he was adopted by a couple from California.
His adoptive father was an architect and engineer who had a promising business. However, when Lee was eight, the business failed, and his father never recovered financially or emotionally. To support the family, his mother worked as a secretary and taught piano and voice lessons in their home.
Lee's father increasingly abused alcohol, and took out his frustrations on his wife and son. Young Lee sought ways to stay away from home as much as possible. At age ten, he started teaching himself to play golf. He steadily progressed at golf throughout his high schools years and was actively recruited by colleges. In 1973, he accepted a full college scholarship to play golf at Arizona State University. During his college career, he won many awards. In his senior year he was named a First Team All American, played on the U.S. Walker Cup team, and won the California State Amateur Championship. Prior to starting a career in finance, Mr. Mikles played golf for three years on the PGA tour.
From 1981 to 1989, Mr. Mikles was a first vice president with Drexel Burnham Lambert, Inc. While there, he formed KCM Equities and became a co-general partner of several joint ventures with the parent company, DBL Group, Inc. Mr. Mikles was instrumental in the creation, financing, and management of these limited partnerships.
After a brief stint at Bateman Richler, Hill, Richards, Inc., he co-founded the Mikles/Miller Group, an affiliate of Shearson Lehman Brothers. In 1992, he was a founding partner of Mikles/Miller Management, Inc., a registered investment advisor, and Mikles/Miller Securities, LLC, a broker/dealer firm. Mikles/Miller Management, Inc., was the managing general partner of the Kodiak family of funds managing institutional capital worldwide. In 2005, he co-founded and became president and chief executive officer of FutureFuel Corporation, a chemical and biodiesel concern with headquarters in Clayton, Missouri. FutureFuel is one of the leading producers of biofuels in the United States.
Committed to helping others, Mr. Mikles and his wife, Lori, established the Make It Possible Foundation in 2001. Similar to the Horatio Alger Association, the Mikles' foundation supports college scholarships for students who have faced adversity. Mr. Mikles writes, ''C' students are not created equal. A great deal of effort and funding are readily available to outstanding students, but too little is afforded those with hardships that don't allow for the student's efforts, desires and potential to be reflected on a simple report card.' Over the last six years, the Make It Possible Foundation has assisted dozens of students in their pursuit of higher education. Additionally, Mr. and Mrs. Mikles have provided generous support for Habitat for Humanity and Autism Speaks, as well as establishing scholarships at Bishop Garcia Diego High School and endowing the Mikles Gallery at the Laguna Blanca School.
Mr. Mikles believes, 'The American Dream is alive and well! The opportunity to excel is only restricted by your own imagination and desire to succeed. It is not important where you are, only the direction in which you are headed.' Mr. Mikles and his wife, Lori, reside in Santa Barbara, California, with their three children.