40 Under 40

Ben Hammett Walkuski

Rheumatology Research Foundation
Atlanta, Georgia

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

  • Ben received two awards from the American College of Rheumatology in 2020, one recognizing his work in designing donor-centric programming and special events for the virtual annual meeting, and one for his leadership in the development and deployment of compelling, year-round donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship communications
  • His efforts to engage nearly 25,000 prospects and donors have yielded a number of big, early wins: a 103% increase in end-of-year giving, 49% increase in number of gifts, 10% increase in year-over-year giving, and 100% participation in the organization's first-ever staff giving campaign
  • Ben and his team are projected to exceed the Foundation's largest fundraising goal ever (and seven months early): a five-year, $75 million campaign


Q & A

1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?

My undergraduate political science studies, experiential learning, and the personal health journey of loved ones taught me the overwhelming importance of health on the path to self-sufficiency, and as a result, my career has reflected a commitment to contribute to individual and community health and well-being.

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

When I felt that my advancement prospects were limited at a prior, local organization, I applied to business school to expand my skills set and increase my marketability. Before completing my MBA, I was recruited away to a national organization where I now have a broader reach and higher profile.

3. What piece of advice would you give aspiring 40 Under 40 recipients?

Network and volunteer, internally and externally! You will be amazed how raising your hand, signing up, and showing up can benefit you, your career, your community, and your organization. A robust and diverse network helped get me in the door at my current and two prior organizations! 

Fun Fact:

Most people are surprised to learn that I am an Eagle Scout, having spent my teenage years building life skills through backpacking and camping throughout the country, including two weeks at a high adventure camp in New Mexico.