2020 40 Under 40 Winners

2019 40 Under 40 Logo

Liz Tesar

UnityPoint Health Foundation
Des Moines, IA

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

  • During Liz’s leadership, the UnityPoint Health Foundation increased the number of donors of $100 or more from 2199 to 3483 (58% increase); increased donors of $250 or more from 1186 to 1824 (54% increase); overall donor retention for a second-year gift increased from 260 to 703 (nearly a two-fold increase of 170% increase; and the overall number of donors grew from 8,391 to 11,126, (33% increase) through improved donor acquisition and retention. 
  • Under Liz’s leadership, UnityPoint's Employee Giving Campaign has continued to grow and thrive. In 2017, the campaign raised $819,420 from 871 donors, 2018 raised $1,079,120 from 1,094 donors, and in 2019 $1,078,191 was raised from 1,006 donors.
  • Most recently, Liz negotiated a contract with ThankView to help provide new ways to communicate with donors in the time of social distancing. 

Q & A

1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?

I got my job through connections I made while earning my Masters in Public Administration. One of my good friends from the program had a job opening on her team and thought I would be good for it. Being able to tie in my experience and creative passions into a single position was a dream. After learning more about the role and foundation team, I agreed, took a leap of faith, and applied. I fell in love with our mission and being able to make a difference for so many in our community inspired me to pursue a career in this field. 

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

I stumbled into my role because I loved the job description. I’ve stayed because what we do is so important. I see the impact philanthropy has on programs and services that greatly impact the health and well-being of our community. It is an honor and a privilege to hear and share the stories of individuals whose lives have changed forever because of a diagnosis and the incredible care they received in our hospitals. This pandemic has reinforced the importance of good healthcare. Seeing our healthcare heroes show up every day for our community and the way our community has shown up for them–it is inspiring and makes me so proud to work for UnityPoint Health.

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

I knew when I applied for my job at UnityPoint Health, all the stars were going to have to align. I was 38 weeks pregnant when I had my first interview and my second interview came two weeks after my son was born. I don’t think many companies would have waited or taken the chance. I’m so thankful my team did. Through that experience, I learned the importance of finding a company that values family and a boss who believes in looking for long-term solutions. It taught me to have confidence in who I am and what I can bring to the table and taking a leap of faith can be a good thing.

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

My very first job was working at a landscape and irrigation nursery. I worked with one of my oldest friends, and we had so much fun. I came home most days sunburned, covered in dirt from head to toe, and on several occasions had terrifying run-ins with snakes (I hate snakes). That experience taught me the value of a hard day’s work and when you’re doing work alongside a friend having fun–it never really feels like work.

5. What are your future aspirations?

As I move forward in my career, I want to love what I do. I want to continue to learn and grow as a leader and eventually lead a team. I hope to teach my children the importance of finding a career that brings them joy. I hope they can appreciate their mom working hard in a career she loves that gives her deep personal fulfillment in knowing she’s making a difference.

Find Liz on LinkedIn.

Fun Fact:

When I was in college, I flew to New York and competed in a National Rock, Paper, Scissors Competition for a chance to win $25,000. I went with my now husband, and we were put up in a beautiful hotel downtown and given $300 in spending money. I didn’t win. Instead of feeling sad, we took the loss as an opportunity to get outside and explore the city. It is one of my favorite college memories.

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