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GIH President and CEO Lauren LeRoy to Step Down October 2012

January 26, 2012

Lauren LeRoy, who since 1998 has led Grantmakers In Health (GIH) through a period of transformative growth and change, will step down as president and CEO in October 2012.

GIH board chair Sam Karp, vice president of the California HealthCare Foundation, said, “Lauren has earned the respect of both health philanthropy and governmental and nongovernmental leaders. She has done a remarkable job making health philanthropy more relevant to the broader health policy, academic, and advocacy communities as a partner, resource, and convener.”

With a mandate from the board to make GIH the preeminent organization serving health funders and the national resource on health philanthropy, Dr. LeRoy spearheaded an ambitious agenda that has positioned GIH as a leader among philanthropic support organizations. Reflecting her outstanding leadership and talent for recruiting and mentoring first-rate staff, GIH has become highly respected for the quality and timeliness of its work; its capacity to build and support a broad range of health funder networks spanning geographic and issue areas; its ability to understand and effect change in the national policy arena; and its commitment to helping funders take decisive and effective action. During Dr. LeRoy’s tenure, the number of GIH Funding Partners has doubled to almost 250 foundations, and their financial support has nearly tripled. 

“The year was 1998 and health philanthropy was exploding with new players and new reform agendas,” said Karen Wolk Feinstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and chair of the GIH board that recruited Dr. LeRoy. “GIH sought a leader with the intelligence and grace to reposition the organization. Lauren married a substantive knowledge of health policy with a commanding presence. Articulate, professional, and intuitive, Lauren has proven the wisdom of our selection.”

Dr. LeRoy’s keen intellect, passion for social change, and command of health policy and philanthropic issues have enabled GIH to put critical health concerns on philanthropy’s collective agenda. Among the areas where her discerning leadership has been evident are GIH’s:

  • leading the field through its call to action in 1998 to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health; 
  • alerting the field to the nearly silent epidemic of overweight and obesity before it received public attention;
  • championing health equity work aimed at addressing the social and economic determinants of health;
  • leading the effort to integrate into the overall work of health philanthropy issues like behavioral and oral health that were traditionally addressed outside the mainstream;
  • launching the innovative Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy; and
  • providing critical information, access to high-level decisionmakers, and other support to funders working across the country to improve access to health care and health insurance coverage. This has resulted in successfully catalyzing national and local funder engagement in implementing health reform and transforming the health care delivery system from the community to the national level. 

“Lauren’s extraordinary vision and leadership have enabled health foundations from across the country, and particularly local and regional foundations, to learn and engage together in understanding and addressing complex health and health care issues,” said Margaret O’Bryon, president and CEO of the Consumer Health Foundation and former GIH board chair. “Through these activities, she has not only made a unique and permanent mark on the field of health philanthropy, but also on the communities and people served by GIH’s Funding Partners.” 

Reflecting on the changes in GIH since 1998, Dr. LeRoy noted, “Although the work of building a high-performing organization never ends, I am very pleased with what GIH has accomplished since I became president. I also continue to be inspired by the many people I have worked with who are committed to equity; social justice; and ensuring that all people can live healthy, productive lives.”  She looks forward to remaining actively engaged in the work of both health philanthropy and health policy.

The search for Dr. LeRoy’s successor will be conducted by the GIH board.

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