MEET SKIP LEONARD
He leads Lee Memorial’s funding campaign, his father’s son, learning from doctors
Skip Leonard wanted to better know his business, which then was (and still is) health care. His job as an executive with a New England hospital was to find the donors who write checks for new buildings and equipment. Most hospitals have an outreach executive, or a foundation officer, who builds funding relationships with groups and individuals. In his current capacity with Lee Memorial Health System, for instance, Leonard raises millions for vital things such as the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida that opens in 2017. But in New England, Leonard wanted to see how the dollars were spent.
So a few days later he observed a doctor perform surgery on a man’s damaged brain. He was astonished by the calm professionalism of the surgical team, with a man’s life at stake, he says. It reinforced his role in the process, Leonard says. “It taught me why I got into what I do,” he says, “all the emotional issues that come with it.”
Leonard today is the chief foundation officer for Lee Memorial Health System, soon to be Lee Health. He is tasked with raising $30 million in annual donations, “to support the health of our community,” he says, adding that Southwest Florida will be a final move, his wife and their two children joining him in August. “We love the area,” he says. “It’s a very special place.”
Leonard has an office in Fort Myers, but he’s mostly on the road, soliciting, networking and affirming relationships. He seems built for his trade; his father was a respected political fundraiser in Rhode Island. Leonard has a graduate degree from Harvard and has always gravitated to administration, he says. He moves mostly among those who have, can and will generously support Lee Memorial. According to Leonard, “Lee Memorial Health System is more than just a wonderful children’s hospital. Our outstanding clinical programs in cancer, cardiovascular/thoracic, health and wellness—to name a few—are what make LMHS and the people who work in it, such an incredible organization that strives every day to keep our community healthy.”
Lee Memorial Health System started in 1916 as the Lee County Hospital. It was a 10-bed, wooden building funded with $300, donated. Today there are four hospitals, some 1,500 beds and nearly a million people each year cycling through its services. The provider also accounts for 10,500 workers, 4,000 volunteers.
Significant philanthropic investment is needed to run Lee Memorial, Leonard says, including what’s needed to open the children’s hospital. It is named after Tom Golisano, the Rochester, New York, and Naples businessman/philanthropist who made a significant philanthropic investment to support children’s health care in Southwest Florida.
A sizable chunk for the Golisano Hospital came from the nonprofit SanCap Cares. The islands’ group has raised $13 million for the hospital and equipment. A SanCap
“We love the area. It’s a very special place.” —Skip Leonard, chief foundation officer Lee Memorial Health System
Cares spokeswoman says the funding campaign started with Lee Memorial doctors saving the life of a Sanibel newborn 17 years ago. “The culture of a hospital is so important,” former cochair Amanda Cross says, “to treat the whole person, the whole family. Skip Leonard understands that, as he continues to learn about the Southwest Florida environment.”
As Leonard notes, “I work for a great organization and have a great team that truly believes in the critical mission of Lee Memorial Health System. I am honored to be part of LMHS and the Southwest Florida community.” Craig Garrett is Group Editor-in-Chief for TOTI Media. “The level of care we provide today, the opportunities for advancement in the future, and the countless lives that have been touched and saved would not have been possible without the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation and the support of our community. As a community-owned, not-for-profit, public health system that receives no direct tax support, Lee Memorial Health System relies significantly on philanthropy and community support to offset the costs of running a high-quality health system. We appreciate everything the Foundation and the community does to help us achieve our mission.” —Jim Nathan, president Lee Memorial Health System “When you support the LMHS Foundation, you help them create so many lifesaving and life-changing stories that take place every day in our community. Meeting the health-care needs of our children, our seniors and everyone in between, is the greatest challenge we face for the future. All of us at the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company are proud of our longtime support to help them deliver the highest-quality patient care possible through the strong leadership of Jim Nathan and his entire team of dedicated medical professionals.” —Al Hanser, founder and chairman Sanibel Captiva Trust Company “We are fortunate to have a new chief officer who brings such a wealth of background and experience to our Foundation. I look forward to serving Skip as we move into the future for the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation.” —Charles K. Idelson, chairperson of Lee Memorial Health System Foundation, president and CEO of Investors Security Trust “As chairman of the Lee Memorial Foundation, we are excited and honored to welcome Skip Leonard to Southwest Florida.” — Joe Gammons, incoming LMHS Foundation board chair, president of Office Furniture & Design Concepts, Inc.
Skip Leonard is the chief foundation officer for Lee Memorial Health System, soon to be renamed Lee Health.