Leaders Reflect on a Campaign Designed for Success

Princeton HealthCare System Foundation Princeton HealthCare System Foundation


Chairman, PHCS Board of Trustees (2002–2007)

You came on to the Board of Trustees of Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS) during a critical turning point in our history. Take us back to that pivotal time.

“When I came on the Board as chairman, changes were made in PHCS’s leadership, including the appointment of Barry Rabner as CEO. I can say unequivocally that we made the right choice, because it was through Barry’s keen observations and strategic foresight that we recognized the need for a new facility and developed the case for launching a campaign to support it. It was a challenging proposition to consider at the time, taking into account the potential cost and the extensive planning that would be required, but the Board strongly believed that this community was deserving of a top-notch healthcare organization. Our future depended on it. With strong and inspirational leadership and outstanding support from people in the community, we possessed the key ingredients to attain our goals, which achieved for the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro a ranking among 100 great hospitals in the country.”


Chairman, PHCS Foundation Board of Directors (2003–2007)

As someone who was involved in the early stages of planning for the new hospital and campaign, what about University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro has made the greatest impression on you?

“My granddaughter was born at the new hospital, and I spent a lot of time there with my family. One thing that made a huge impression on me was the overall ambience of the place—not only with regard to the physical space but the staff. From being greeted by the guest relations team to our interactions with the nurses and other staff, it was such a warm and welcoming experience, unlike any I've had at other hospitals. It made such a difference during this special time for us and actually made me want to play a role again in supporting the organization. It’s simply outstanding.”


Campaign Chairman (2006–2008)

What was your greatest motivation for taking on the role as the campaign’s first chairman?

“I had the opportunity to travel with Barry Rabner and others on the staff to visit hospitals in various areas and to see what was being done with newly constructed medical campuses. These visits fueled the excitement of being able to stretch our imagination to not only what we needed for patient care today, but what we could do 10 to 15 years from now. It moved it from just a construction 
project to a transformational undertaking. This was the motivator to me and, as such, I was able to share my enthusiasm in a way that could be constructive to the initial fundraising for the project.”


Chairman, PHCS Board of Trustees (2007–2010)

Having been heavily involved in details concerning the new healthcare campus, what did you find most rewarding?

“I truly enjoyed the experience of working on the selection of the site for the new hospital. Those of us involved did an extensive search to find the right location that would enable the hospital to meet the projected needs of patients within the area. We considered the location in Plainsboro best-suited to meet that objective. It was exciting for me to preside over the Board meeting to select the site and reassuring to receive unanimous support from the Board. An additional element in making this process so seamless was having the confidence to proceed with the purchase of the land with the firm understanding that we would be able to get to where we needed to be in terms of funding. The campaign factored prominently into our financing model.”


Chairman, PHCS Foundation Board of Directors (2007–2010)

What aspects of the campaign were you most proud to have been part of?

“Most often when organizations launch a major capital campaign, they have the benefit of experience from prior campaigns and a staff already in place to support the effort. We had neither, and we had an urgent need to raise far more money than we had ever attempted to do in the past. I was able to draw on my fundraising knowledge to help work out the right staff complement for our campaign and to coach some of the new members as they came aboard. I’m proud to have been part of a dedicated team of volunteers, staff, and contributors who, working tirelessly together, produced such stunning results for our hospital and our community.”


Co-chairman, Design for Healing campaign (2008–2013)

Campaigns like this can encounter obstacles along the way. What did you view as a challenge to overcome?

“Any project that takes 4 to 5 years from concept to design to completion has obstacles associated with volunteer fatigue. For management, this is their job, but for volunteers, it is a labor of love. Keeping volunteers motivated was critical to ensure that we could meet our financial goal ... and then enlarge that goal as well. Management and the Development Staff worked hard to involve volunteers and to keep them motivated, giving them support and guidance, as well as a sense of independence to approach donors on their own.”


Chairman, PHCS Foundation Board of Directors (2010–present)

During the course of the campaign you wore many hats, starting out as a member of the Foundation Board, to chairing various committees, to serving on the Board of Trustees. What do you think has been the key element in carrying out these and other volunteer roles successfully?

“The key element to being an impactful volunteer is recognizing that the hospital belongs to the community, and that those of us in leadership are fiduciaries of the community’s health. We represent the community’s interests in every facet of our work—from getting involved in the weedy tactical details to developing strategy for the next several decades. Volunteering for our hospital is an enriching and rewarding experience, and I’m honored and proud to be a part of it.”


Co-chairman, Design for Healing campaign (2008–2013)

What about this volunteer leadership effort differed from others you’ve been part of?

“Universally, people want good health care. It’s not like a lot of other causes where people say, ‘that’s not my thing.’ With a hospital, we all know we might end up there someday, so everybody cares. I found that even if somebody didn’t make a gift, they still cared deeply about the hospital. It is the universal interest in health care that made nearly 100% of the people we spoke with so enthusiastic about the project. Everybody had a positive attitude; there weren’t sharp elbows—it was a delight to be part of this incredible effort.”


Chairman, PHCS Board of Trustees (2010–present)

It is amazing that this project came to fruition during the most traumatic financial times since the Great Depression. What things go through your mind when you think about this period during the campaign?

“I was chairing the Finance Committee of the Board when I first became involved with the project, and I participated in a preliminary consultant’s survey that said we could raise $50 million. I was part of the leadership group that suggested a goal of $100 million, and I was Chairman as we exceeded our campaign’s inspirational goal of $165 million.

It’s amazing we had the fortitude to believe we could increase the goal, even after the worst financial crisis in decades. It helped that we had great leadership from Barry Rabner, but we also had thousands of people helping us in this effort. It wasn’t just the Board or Foundation or staff—our advocates in the community and grateful patients led to many of our largest gifts. We provide outstanding health care and have a huge base of support that was activated by our physicians, employees, and trustees.”


We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our Trustees, Foundation Board of Directors, campaign and standing committees—outstanding leaders who gave their time, talent, and generous financial contributions. Their wise counsel and tireless efforts have resulted in a hospital that is far stronger than ever before. We take this opportunity to extend our deepest thanks for their support of this monumental effort.

Article as seen in Foundation News Fall 2013.