How did you get involved in philanthropy and specifically in the field of health-focused philanthropy?
For nearly 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of working in health philanthropy focused on collaboration, partnership and measurable and sustainable improvements. While the Foundation structure has been in existence since the early 1960’s, owning and operating a hospital system, it was the 1998 hospital-system-asset sale that prompted the transition to a private Foundation with a mission to improve health and quality of life in central and southeastern Ohio.
Prior to the asset sale, my responsibilities included fundraising and development activities to support the hospital’s community outreach and services. I then transitioned to focus on the development and implementation of the Foundation’s proactive grantmaking strategy and processes. Over the past decade, the field of philanthropy has evolved, including the advent of formal education programs, such as the Indiana University School of Philanthropy. These programs provide opportunities for professional development and training that are preparing the next generation of philanthropic and nonprofit leaders.
How has working with the Appalachia Funders Network influenced or affected your work at the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations (OHF)?
As a relatively new member of both the Appalachia Funders Network and the Steering Committee, the group has extended a sincere welcome and it’s evident that the active membership is eager to positively impact the economic transition in a manner that is, among other things, thoughtful, inclusive, and intentional. So far, it’s been a great learning opportunity (and curve) getting to know all the foundations and providers working in Central Appalachia. There are a number of foundations investing in health and healthy food access in the region, which are priorities for OHF, and already we’ve shared resources and promising practices that have been successful in the region. I’m encouraged by the discussions and initiative surrounding the joint Food Systems Working Group with the Central Appalachian Network and how it could impact our efforts to improve the health and quality of life in the southeastern Ohio.
What opportunities do you see for philanthropy to influence large scale change?
Philanthropy has a great opportunity to listen and respond to the needs of the communities they serve, to think in innovative ways, and impact change on a larger level. From the perspective of the Network, large scale change happens when multiple sectors are actively involved and share the vision of change. The Network has structured itself to include strategic partnerships with different sectors, including private and community foundations, government agencies, and banks. Their collective voice influences a greater number of people and organizations to positively impact change. For funders like OHF, whose focus in health aligns with many of the Network’s objectives, all our collective work will be elevated and more effective.
When you think more broadly about your role in philanthropy, where do you look for inspiration?
The essence of our work is about improving the lives of vulnerable and underserved populations in central and southeastern Ohio. For me, inspiration comes from the direct interactions with providers and the clients they serve – getting out into the region. It’s an honor and a privilege knowing that we’ve had a small part in making the region a better place to live, work and raise a family.
What do you like to do in your free time?
This time of year, anything outside! My husband, Tom, and I have been taking advantage of the many activities in downtown Columbus and weekend travel to visit friends and family. While at home, we love to cook and are always looking for new grilling ideas. I’ve taken up tennis this summer – trying to master the technique, finesse and strategy (which is no small task) – it’s been fun to play with new and old friends. Finally, our days are filled with an energetic and lovable 4-year-old cocker spaniel, Madaket. Though her namesake comes from a small village on Nantucket, where Tom and I honeymooned, she was born in Appalachian Ohio!