MEET SKIP LEONARD

He leads Lee Me­mo­rial’s fund­ing cam­paign, his fa­ther’s son, learn­ing from doc­tors

RSWLiving - - Departments - BY CRAIG GAR­RETT

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.

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