hope to health hero

Historic Philanthropic Campaign Sets Records

Hope to Health: Historic Philanthropic Campaign for MCW and Froedtert Hospital Sets Records

Hope to Health, the Campaign for the Medical College of Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital, concluded December 31, 2020 – achieving a record amount of philanthropic support and engagement from the community and raising more than $300.4 million for the campaign’s strategic priorities.

“This campaign was about securing the future of healthcare for us all,” says Linda Mellowes, MCW trustee emerita, community leader and a key advisor for the campaign. “I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished to build safer, healthier and more equitable communities.”

“With the momentum from this campaign, we are extremely well-positioned to have an impact on some of the most pressing needs facing our community,” adds Cory Nettles, former chair of the MCW board of trustees, business leader and a member of the Hope to Health Cabinet.

In 2015, John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, MCW president and CEO, launched the campaign with Cathy Jacobson, president and CEO of Froedtert Health, to elevate access to research-based healthcare across the region, boost education programs for medical professionals, address the devastating burden of cancer and support partnerships with the community to reduce healthcare disparities.

“The leadership and generosity of our donors will benefit this community for generations,” says Dr. Raymond. “These philanthropic investments bolster all of our work, from new medical discoveries that cure diseases and treat injuries to addressing the health disparities that have disadvantaged our community, both economically and socially – especially racial inequities that require our urgent attention.”

“As the only academic health system in eastern Wisconsin,” adds Jacobson, “we already have been taking on the toughest problems in medicine and delivering care for patients and families not available anywhere else in the region. Philanthropy sustains these efforts and demonstrates this community’s strong endorsement that our work is critical to our future.”

The campaign was successful despite its final year taking place against the backdrop of three interrelated crises: the COVID-19 pandemic; a sharp economic downturn comparable to the Great Depression; and the ongoing crisis of racism and its impact on communities of color, especially in healthcare.

Hope to Health Jacobson and Raymond
“We started this campaign with a vision to redefine health beyond healthcare and to work closely with our many partners to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to thrive. With your support, we will continue to drive innovations in education, research and patient care that make our communities healthier and more secure.” Cathy Jacobson, president and CEO, Froedtert Health (left) and John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, president and CEO, Medical College of Wisconsin (right). (photo taken at the Heart of the Matter event in July 2019)

For many, these issues underscored the urgent need for strong, community-supported academic health systems that work to deliver innovative care to those who need it the most.

“An enduring impact of this campaign should be the emphasis it places on our work to build trust in our communities,” says Eric Conley, president of Froedtert Hospital. “It is this trust that we need as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and as we rise to meet the challenges of the future.”

“Our community and our state deserve the very best care that academic medicine can offer,” notes Joseph E. Kerschner, MD ’90, FEL ’98, the Julia A. Uihlein, MA, Dean of the School of Medicine, provost and executive vice president of MCW. “The events of the past year demonstrate that this care is enhanced by working with our partners to understand the real needs of the patients and families we serve.”

Historic Firsts

The Hope to Health Campaign saw several historic firsts for MCW and Froedtert Hospital, including MCW’s largest onetime gift to support innovation in medical education, an unprecedented investment to further pediatric cancer research, contributions elevating the Genomic Sciences and Precision Medicine Center, and an expansion of clinical trials and patient care technologies at Froedtert Hospital.

“By almost any measure, this campaign was an amazing success,” says Jay B. Williams, president of the Medical College of Wisconsin board of trustees.

“The engagement from MCW alumni, the range of giving and the new and reinvigorated collaborations with community partners to improve healthcare education and increase access to patient care has brought us to new heights,” Williams adds.

In 2017, the Kern family and the Kern Family Foundation announced a $37.9 million contribution to establish the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education at MCW and the Kern National Network for Caring & Character in Medicine (KNN), a collaboration of seven medical schools: Dell Medical School; Geisel School of Medicine; Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine; MCW; University of California San Francisco School of Medicine; University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Hope to Health Kern Institute
MCW president and CEO Dr. John R. Raymond, Sr. (at right) chats with Kern National Network for Caring & Character in Medicine (KNN) partners (from l-r) Dr. Stephanie Starr, Dr. Bonnie Miller and Dr. Bill Cutrer at the June 8, 2017, Kern Institute and KNN launch event at MCW.

The contribution represented the largest individual noncorporate gift to MCW and made headlines as MCW and partners assumed a leadership role in reimagining healthcare education and practice.

In addition, former MCW trustee chair Stephen Roell and his wife, Shelagh Roell, PhD, provided a substantial gift to establish the Stephen and Shelagh Roell Endowed Chair of the Kern Institute. The inaugural chair holder was Cheryl Maurana, PhD, professor and senior vice president for strategic academic partnerships and founding director of the Kern Institute and KNN.

“The Kerns’ vision was to encourage an approach that starts before medical school and continues well beyond so that physicians deliver compassionate care marked by character and caring,” Dr. Maurana remarks.

The Hope to Health Campaign also saw the establishment of 14 new chairs and professorships, as well as two new deanships – one each for the MCW School of Medicine and MCW-Central Wisconsin. These positions are critical to faculty recruitment and retention efforts and provide support for a wide variety of academic priorities including student scholarships, seed grants for research and training programs for residents and fellows. The two deanships were the first in MCW’s history.

 Hope to Health School of Medicine Uihlein DeanHope to Health MCW-Central Wisconsin Sentry Dean_Article 

Left: Dr. Joseph E. Kerschner received the inaugural endowed deanship for the School of Medicine established with a Hope to Health campaign gift from Julia A. Uihlein, MA ’99. Right: Pete McPartland, chair of the board, president and CEO of Sentry Insurance, congratulates Lisa Grill Dodson, MD, Sentry Dean and founding dean of MCW-Central Wisconsin. (photo taken December 2019)

Other campaign gifts reflected the significant role that MCW has in advancing new medical discovery that led to innovative patient care.

The MACC Fund, MCW’s largest donor with gifts dating back to 1976, announced in 2019 an unprecedented investment in new pediatric cancer and blood disorders research in the region by pledging $25 million. The MACC Fund contribution supports the researchers, physicians and scientific infrastructure needed to advance high-impact discovery science, accelerates new therapies for children with cancer and supports programs that optimize the quality of life for patients after their treatments.

Gifts to the campaign from the Kurtis R. Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital Trust addressed multiple priorities in the hospital, including clinical trials that discover new treatments, technologies that improve safety and reduce recovery times, and investments in the training and development of staff to improve patient care.

Tina Curtis, vice president of the hospital’s cancer service line, stressed the importance of contributions from the trust, which come from the estate of Kurtis R. Froedtert, the business leader whose vision for improved healthcare delivery for southeastern Wisconsin led to the founding of Froedtert Hospital.

“Clinical trials are the culmination of medical discovery and give us the opportunity to provide new treatments for patients before they are available at other healthcare systems,” says Curtis. “Investments from the trust are saving the lives of patients today and give us the opportunity to discover the next generation of cancer therapies right here in Milwaukee.”

– Michael J. Mathias