My Purposeful Path

Why you should consider a career in healthcare philanthropy

What is healthcare philanthropy? 

Healthcare philanthropy involves raising funds to support the mission and vision of healthcare organizations. This can include everything from providing financial assistance to patients in need to funding research and development initiatives that have the potential to transform the field of healthcare.  

Why become a healthcare philanthropy professional? ➔

Use your skills and talents to make a difference in the lives of others and to be part of something bigger than yourself. 

  • Make a positive impact: As a healthcare philanthropy professional, you will have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of patients and their families. You will be able to help fund initiatives that improve healthcare quality and save lives. 
  • Be creative: Healthcare philanthropy professionals are often responsible for developing and implementing fundraising campaigns. This requires a lot of creativity and the ability to think outside the box. 
  • Join a dynamic and fast-paced environment: The field of healthcare is constantly changing, and this means that no two days in healthcare philanthropy are the same. There’s lots of opportunity to learn and grow. 
  • Get a sense of accomplishment: There is a deep sense of accomplishment that comes with being part of a team that is working to make a positive impact on the world. As a healthcare philanthropy professional, you will be able to see firsthand the difference that your efforts are making. 

Their Purposeful Paths: Philanthropy Professional Profiles 

Jacynta Brewton

Major Gifts Officer

Holy Cross Health

How Jacynta Got into Philanthropy 

“I've been in fundraising a little over 14 years. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in my life, I was never told about fundraising as a career path. So I just started out at Georgia Tech Foundation in the admin world, and slowly but surely matriculated up through advancement, events, and then to major gifts. And now I am a major gifts officer.” 

Why Jacynta Chose Healthcare Philanthropy 

“My entrée into healthcare is very personal. A few years ago, I was pregnant with twin baby boys, and one of them died. I was diagnosed with stage four cancer like a month later. Once I got better, I decided I wanted to do fundraising, but I wanted to do it for healthcare. Now I’m at an institution that raises money for the things that affected me.” 

Why Jacynta Thinks You Should Take a Chance on a Philanthropy Career 

“Ask yourself, what skill set is going to serve you best right when you think about your career, even if you don't know we're going to be in the next five years, five months even? When you think about the skill sets that you learn, the relationships you build in philanthropy, they will serve you no matter what industry you end up going into.” 


Eddie Plata 

Director of Development 

Hackensack Meridian Health 

How Eddie Got into Philanthropy 

“About 10 years ago, I found out about this incredible organization that supports the craniofacial community, and I was interested in learning more about nonprofits. I had been in a hospital before, not needing medical care, but out of curiosity in the emergency room. I loved how chaotic it was and that everybody was there to support patients and families. And I learned about the development office. So when I moved to New York, I was like, I think this is something I want to try. And I just loved it. It feels good to do good.” 

Eddie’s Most Memorable Gift 

“I worked on a facial transplant project, and a very big donation came out of that. When I found out the gift had come through, I was like, ‘oh my god, let’s do this again!” That’s how I always feel when I get a big gift. It warms my heart when we get to connect with a donor.” 


Dawn Wilcox 

Associate Senior Vice President,
Development and Corporate Partnerships 

Children's Hospital Los Angeles 

How Dawn Got into Healthcare Philanthropy 

“I was in the PR and marketing world for 18 years, helping nonprofits with their cause marketing and philanthropic campaigns and then working with companies to help them create charity partnerships. One day, Children's Hospital Los Angeles called and said, ‘We want you to do corporate partnerships for us.’ I said, ‘Are you sure? I've never done healthcare fundraising.’ Nine years later, here I am.” 

Dawn’s Most Memorable Gift 

“I have been a part of helping companies raise $5,000 up to millions of dollars. And each of them has its own meaningful connection because for some small businesses that $5,000 represented a year's worth of profits. One of the most exciting ones that I worked on was when Panda Express signed their commitment for $20 million for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. That was definitely a celebration.” 


Juan De La Cruz 

President, Charitable Foundation 

Adventist Health Foundation  

How Juan Got into Healthcare Philanthropy 

“I've always been a person that wanted to get back to my community. When I worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District, I did a lot of work on public-private partnerships. That led me to the YMCA, where I became the lead fundraiser. About 15 years ago, I lost my brother to a brain tumor. When my brother passed away, I realized that healthcare is not accessible to everyone. I made it my life commitment to give back and get into the healthcare system.” 

Juan’s Advice for People New to the Field 

“Get involved in understanding the process of philanthropy—such as the levels of engagement, planned giving, major giving. There’s a method to the madness.” 


Jena Pado  

Executive Director, Foundation 

Dayton Children’s Hospital Foundation   

How Jena Got into Philanthropy 

“I kind of fell into fundraising. I was a political science major, but when I moved to DC I realized that political work was not for me. I found a temp job at a junior college that was in the middle of a campaign and absolutely loved it. That was 20-something years ago.” 

Jena’s Most Memorable Gift 

“The most memorable thing that I've worked on is a new space for kids who have been physically and sexually abused. It was so incredibly rewarding to be instrumental in creating a safe space where kids who’ve experienced such horrific things can go.” 

Why Jena Recommends a Philanthropy Career  

“Fundraising is truly a noble profession. It is incredibly rewarding.” 


Paul Richardson   

System Senior Vice President, Philanthropy Engagement  

CommonSpirit Health   

Why Paul Thinks You Should Consider a Philanthropy Career  

“If I were coming out of college now and looking for meaningful work, I would consider healthcare philanthropy as a career. It’s challenging and gives you the ability to do a lot of creative, interesting things. You can link passion to purpose and be a conduit for donors who wants to do amazing things to see them come to fruition and help the community.” 

Why Paul Thinks Diversity Is Critical in the Philanthropy Field 

“We want to see more people that represent our communities. People want to be able to connect in authentic ways with people who understand their experiences. I would encourage you to join if you don’t see yourself in the work being done. It’s why I joined as well. I want to be sure that I continue to do what I can to advocate for the voiceless in our communities.”


Sara Alger    


University Health System Foundation  

How Sara Got into Healthcare Philanthropy 

“I spent a lot of time in high school and college doing community service. When I got out of college, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I had a one job in the for-profit world for a year and thought: this is not it. So I moved back home to Milwaukee and did a little search and one of the things that came up was development. I took a shot at it, and I’ve been here ever since.” 

Sara’s Most Memorable Gift 

“There was a mini campaign that I did to put emergency medical dispatch in rural counties in Wisconsin. At the time, the average response time was 10 to 12 minutes for anybody to be out there with fire and EMS volunteers. The second that we installed the software and flipped the switch, we saved four lives in four minutes. There was somebody that had their arm caught in a farm machine. A woman who delivered a baby in the back seat of a car—we saved her and the baby's life. A gunshot wound. I thought it was a joke when the physician called to tell me. I couldn’t believe it. Every time I see them post something on social media about another life saved, it's like, ‘Oh my gosh, my team did that.’” 


Josue Hernandez     

Annual Fund and
Donor Groups Manager   

Huntington Hospital Foundation 

How Josue Got into Philanthropy 

“When I was working at a national immigration advocacy agency in San Francisco in the legal publications department, a colleague of mine approached me and said, ‘hey, have you ever considered fundraising? I think your skills set would really translate.’ That really sparked an interest in wanting to do more research.” 

Why Josue Chose Healthcare Philanthropy 

“I wanted to do something meaningful and be part of something that I had personally experienced. Through my experience and also with family, I know that having access to quality healthcare can be lifesaving and so I wanted to make sure that I focused myself on healthcare fundraising in particular.” 

Josue’s Advice for Anyone Considering a Philanthropy Career  

“Set up informational interviews. Just go out into the community and connect with healthcare fundraisers and ask them, ‘What made you go into healthcare fundraising? What's fulfilling about your career? What are the challenges, what are the benefits of being in this field?’ I did that early on, and I continue to do that to this day to grow my network and learn from people with more experience in their career.”