40 Under 40

Janell Samuels

CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations
Lexington, Kentucky

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

  • Janell successfully secured funding for “Telehealth Solutions for Rural Kentucky,” one of only four telemedicine projects funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It will reach 450,000 residents in 11 rural counties
  • She was appointed by the governor of Kentucky to serve on the Kentucky Arts Council’s board of directors and is currently serving a second appointment
  • Collectively her grant revenue improvement performance has increased on average over the last five-year year-over-year by 31 percent. Janell has secured over $21 million in funding

Q & A

How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?

Following graduate school, I was hired to write a manual for policymakers and worked with an evidence-based behavioral health program called START - Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams. This program launched in Kentucky state government because of a grant we received through the Children's Bureau. This model has since been implemented in several state governments and is a Children's Bureau poster-child success story. When I realized the magnitude of change happening across the state because of this program and the funding we secured in Kentucky, I knew I wanted my life's work to focus on implementing large-scale change in underserved communities.

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

The most pivotal moment in my career was when our foundation leader rewarded our department's success by allowing us to re-envision and restructure our department. Another colleague and I were given the authority and freedom to establish our own grants model and develop our own policies, team structure, and work-flows -- this positioned us for success in a way that had immediate and long-lasting ramifications. This team-driven, collaborative approach allowed us to excel beyond and above everyone’s expectations – including our own.

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

Whatever your philanthropic area of focus, take time for continuing education and make sure your work adheres to industry best practices. If you learn your organization does not follow best practices or could improve performance through advancement in certain areas, take it to your leadership so they can take it to their leadership. Insist. Justify. Repeat. It'll happen. 


Fun Fact:

I have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine and in 2015 wrote a screenplay titled: "Millennial Rage."