2020 40 Under 40 Winners

2019 40 Under 40 Logo

Francis Gress

Einstein Healthcare Network
Philadelphia, PA

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

  • Before Fran's tenure, Einstein Healthcare Network had no systematic, consistent Annual Fund Program. Having built the program from scratch, he has raised a total of $1.8 million since its inception. He has deployed testing and analytics resulting in a 10% increase in average donation, a 10% increase in the overall response rate, a 44% increase in total donations from active donors, a 23% increase in patient response rate, and a 54% decrease in cost per dollar raised.
  •  In response to the COVID pandemic, Fran led the establishment of Einstein's Employee Relief Fund, which aided 750+ employees and raised $64,700 from 800+ donors through direct mail appeals for COVID-related needs.
  • Fran has secured $85,750 from foundation funders for Einstein's Pride program for the LGBTQ community and $77,000 for Einstein's Diabetic Retinopathy program.

Q & A

1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?

My role at Einstein Healthcare Network was my first in healthcare philanthropy. Previously, I built a development and enrollment marketing program at an inner-city parochial school in Philadelphia, as part of a fellowship program sponsored by the Connelly Foundation. After that program’s conclusion, I sought out a new opportunity and found an Annual Fund opening at Einstein, the hospital where family members of mine received life-changing care.

2. Why did you choose to make healthcare philanthropy your career?

Einstein was founded in order to care for the marginalized who were refused care elsewhere, and that spirit of compassion and equity has persisted into present day. Learning that healthcare philanthropy does not only pave the way for new buildings and technology, but also to dismantle our patients’ barriers to care, I realized I wanted to be a part of this vital work. I came to realize healthcare philanthropy insists that health is a right, not a privilege, and playing a part in ensuring the most vulnerable among us get the care they deserve is an honor.

3. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.

A pivot point in my career was a lesson learned from a colleague of mine. As many of us know all too well, criticisms of philanthropy are not uncommon, and early on I admittedly found it difficult to articulate in a succinct way how philanthropy is necessary, ethical, and appropriate. Thankfully, my colleague did have a succinct way: “Fundraising professionals are not in the business of convincing or manipulating. The reality of our work is simply that we give those who wish to make a difference the opportunity to make an impact on the lives our patients.”  

4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?

My first job was a neighborhood dog walking/sitting service I started with my grade school best friend. While our clients were few, we did learn what was important for continued success. The better we listened to and understood the specific expectations of our clients, the better we could serve them and their pets! We also learned to be transparent in the face of challenges, which led to long term loyalty from our clients.

5. What are your future aspirations?

I plan to remain in the health and human services sector. I want to continue to work for an organization that pursues true healthcare equity and works toward confronting the social determinants of health that have led to the life expectancy gap.
Find Francis on LinkedIn. 
Fran Gress New Headshot-Square

Fun Fact:

While talent is relative, I love to cook, especially healthful versions of indulgent classics!

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