40 Under 40

Elissa Richman Kohel

Johns Hopkins Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

  • Over the last four years at The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine (The Brady), Elissa has cumulatively raised over $45 million in philanthropic dollars breaking all previous records
  • During her first fiscal year at The Brady, Elissa and her team increased their annual philanthropic revenue by over 90%
  • She is a Trustee of the Foundation for the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women and over the last three years, has volunteered her team to lead an internship opportunity for local students at an inner-city high school, training them with transferable skills and teaching them about careers in medical fundraising 

Q & A

1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?

As so often happens, my entrée into healthcare philanthropy was a bit accidental. I was living in New York City and devoted to my Jewish communal development work, when our family had an opportunity to move to Baltimore, my hometown. With that, I had to make a decision: stay working in the Jewish community, or try something new. I went with new and am so grateful that I did!

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

When I was 24 and had just entered a career in development, I was invited to participate in a coveted leadership program. I was part of the third cohort and was the youngest to ever participate, so I knew I had my work cut out for me! Over the course of 18 months in the program, not only did I meet fantastic New York professionals, learn the high points of non-profit management from faculty at Columbia University, and experience what it was like to be in school and working at the same time, but I also learned a lot about myself and where I wanted to take my career.

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

It is never too late to try something new. One of the most rewarding aspects of healthcare philanthropy is the ability to be entrepreneurial. I find that we have an opportunity—and often an obligation—to continually reinvent how we approach our work. It is never too late to try something new or to make a change. 
Elissa Kohel headshot (002)

Fun Fact:

I wouldn't say I am especially or uniquely talented, but something I am always proud to share is that I am the mom to two beautiful girls, Lily (age 11) and Sadie (age 7). They keep my husband and me on our toes with their many sports and hobbies. Kids today amaze me with everything they can juggle!