The board of trustees of Legacy Health Endowment announced the hiring of Jeffrey R. Lewis as the newly-formed health care philanthropy’s first president and chief executive officer. Founded in 2014, the Turlock-based LHE was created as a result of the sale of Emanuel Medical Center, Inc. to Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, Inc., which is affiliated with Tenet Health. The Endowment will provide funding and technical support for nonprofit health care facilities to create health care solutions within Stanislaus and Merced counties through programs that provide medical services, health screenings and testing, health education, preventative health care services, medical education, medical research and other needed health care services.
“Legacy Health Endowment has the opportunity to leave an indelible mark on our community by building and strengthening health care solutions for people living in Stanislaus and Merced counties,” said Lewis, who assumed leadership of LHE in June. “Over the past three months I have traveled extensively throughout Stanislaus and Merced counties meeting with community health experts, college and university officials, physicians and nurses to gain a deeper understanding of the health challenges our community is facing. These challenges present the Endowment with opportunities to create unique solutions for our community.”
Lewis emphasized that “Our tagline is ‘Infinite Possibilities/Endless Opportunities’ to underscore the breadth of how philanthropy can deliver value back to the communities it serves over and over again. It’s at the core of who we are and what we will be doing every day. There are no problems, only opportunities waiting to happen,” he added.
A nationally-recognized health care leader for more than 30 years, Lewis is known as a strategic visionary and accomplished agent of change with a clear sense of purpose. His work is considered both imaginative and pragmatic, and has succeeded in bringing together public, private and nonprofit sectors to develop effective health care solutions. Areas of Lewis’ expertise include large scale change management, entrepreneurial leadership, strategic partnerships, capital investment and planning, cost reduction and ROI optimization, and public policy development.
Lewis has worked in Congress, for three United States Senators, in the private sector, and in the foundation world as well. Immediately before joining LHE, he served as president of the Institute for Healthcare Innovation while concurrently serving as the chairman and CEO of the St. Paul’s Foundation health care Project in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Lewis also spent 20 years at the Heinz Family Philanthropies as its president and chief operating officer. While at Heinz, he created and implemented a successful strategy to ensure HIV/AIDS patients in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program could access life-saving medications at no cost and without being placed on waiting lists. Lewis also developed strategies to assist governors and state legislators on how to optimize the use of public dollars in the purchasing of prescription drugs.
“The last few months have been so rewarding as the Board and I have been working alongside Jeffrey, thinking through how we can best serve as stewards of our community and use the philanthropic dollars wisely and effectively in order to create lasting health care solutions,” said Jennifer Larson, chair person of the LHE Board and co-owner of Kirk Larson Construction in Turlock.
“Jeffrey brings our community a wonderful combination of expertise and decisive leadership, and because of his caring and humble spirit, he is sincere and approachable,” said Larson. “We are fortunate to have Jeffrey, his wife Karen, and their family join our community.”
Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in General Studies (with an emphasis on History/English) from the University of Michigan, a master’s of Science degree in Gerontology from the University of Southern California, and a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. He is a prolific writer, with his work appearing extensively on newspaper op-ed pages and in scholarly publications. In addition, he is the author of four books of poetry.
“I know firsthand Jeffrey’s commitment to health care and his successful career of building real solutions for real problems across the United States,” said Father Andrew Bushell, chairman of the St. Paul’s Foundation. “He understands how to use philanthropy as venture capital while leveraging corporate resources to further the value of philanthropic dollars, and I had the privilege to watch him constantly deliver 10 dollars of value for one dollar of charitable donation for over a decade.
“Jeffrey excels at challenging the status quo by building sustainable solutions that change people’s lives and there is no doubt that Jeffrey’s leadership will change the face of health care in the Central Valley of California, across the state and the nation,” Father Bushell added.
“Jeffrey Lewis brings incredible personal and professional value to Legacy Health Endowment. A gifted writer, thinker and problem solver all wrapped into one amazing professional who will help the LHE community achieve incredible success,” adds longtime colleague Travis Leonardi, CEO of the health care analytics company Sentry Data Systems. “There is no doubt that the Endowment under Jeffrey’s leadership will be well positioned to achieve amazing success.”
LHE will announce its first set of health care grants to strengthen the overall health of the greater LHE community in the coming months.