Published on January 10, 2020

Planning for the future by looking to the past

by Autumn Bishop, LMH Health

More than 40 local non-profit organizations will come together for PhilanthroSHE, a first-of-its-kind opportunity to celebrate women in philanthropy on the evening of January 29 at the Jayhawk Club in Lawrence, KS. The collaborative event celebrates the role philanthropy plays in helping community organizations fulfill their vision—especially those working in the areas of health, wellness and vibrancy.

Kathleen Sebelius, the 44th Governor of Kansas and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, is the featured speaker at the event. The program will focus on the power of collaborative partnerships among community organizations.

Elizabeth Watkins and the Social Service League were integral in the formation of LMH Health.
The original 50-bed hospital building was constructed nearly 100 years ago. Watkins’ gift stipulated that the new facility would provide exceptional care to all and that no person would be excluded on account of race, physical, social or financial condition. As healthcare has evolved, this commitment has remained. As a community-owned, not-for-profit healthcare system, charitable care is not only an imperative–it guides decision-making at the highest levels of the organization.

“When we began planning for the LMH Health Foundation’s 50th anniversary many months ago, I found myself thinking a lot about LMH Health’s founding philanthropists, especially the Social Services League and Elizabeth Watkins,” said Rebecca Smith, vice president of strategic communications for LMH Health and executive director of the LMH Health Foundation, which seeks to inspire community and philanthropic support for the community hospital. “Ms. Watkins and the League’s formative members weren’t just integral to the hospital’s development, but to many other organizations as well. About the same time, I came across a quotation from another generous supporter of so many nonprofits in our community, Tensie Oldfather. She said, ‘We’re all in this together.’”

Smith said that while research shows that women make a vast majority of decisions regarding philanthropic giving today, she believes that Lawrence and Douglas County were well ahead of the times thanks to women like Watkins and Oldfather.

“We have dozens of examples of women coming together and making a huge difference over the past 100 years, well before it was considered commonplace,” said Smith. “And, we know that our donors support not just the hospital, but many non-profits in Douglas County, much like Elizabeth Watkins. We’re grateful for that, and we want them to know that our non-profit leaders know that we can accomplish a lot more by working together.”

Speakers will highlight innovative partnerships and include Elizabeth Keever, executive director of Just Food; Dr. Anna Stubblefield, deputy superintendent at USD 497; Erica Hill, finance and operations manager for the LMH Health Foundation and health equity advocate; Nicole Rials, urgent care director at Bert Nash; Nancy Jackson, founder of Generous Change; and Russ Johnson, President and CEO of LMH Health.

“Food insecurity is not a stand-alone issue, it is a healthcare issue; no one agency alone can serve the full needs of a patient,” said Keever, who has led a partnership with LMH Health to ensure that clinic and emergency room patients have access the healthy, non-perishable food needed for recovery. “We hope that by sharing examples of the collaborations underway among non-profits to address social determinants of health like food scarcity, we can begin to chart a path forward—together. Collaboration is key to ensure wrap-around services for our community, and we are entering a new era of partnerships that will have a meaningful impact on health and wellness. It’s a truly exciting time.”

Heather Hoy, Director of Philanthropy and Community Relations at the Douglas County Community Foundation (DCCF), said that she was looking forward to hearing from attendees at the event.

“It’s important to understand what a healthy community looks like from the perspective of our community’s philanthropists, especially as we embark on new collaborations and initiatives,” said Hoy, who led planning for the popular DCCF community conversations held over 2019. “Philanthropy can be a catalyst as we work together for a healthier Douglas County.”

While the event provides an opportunity to recognize the significant role that women specifically have played and continue to play in community leadership and philanthropy, everyone is invited to this interactive evening.

“We can learn a lot about the future by observing the past, and women have set an exceptional example,” said Jason Hoover, past president of the LMH Health Foundation board of directors and president and CEO of the Kaw Valley State Bank in Eudora, KS. “Lindsey and I are proud to support this event, and we look forward to bringing together men and women—the donors, volunteers and supporters from dozens of non-profits—to discuss the future of healthcare collaborations and of philanthropy.”

Nancy Jackson, founder of Generous Change, said that over the last year, Douglas County has indicated that it's time for a new approach to a healthier community.

“That means attending to housing, food security, and behavioral health alongside traditional healthcare," said Jackson. “LMH Health is leading the way toward that future with vibrant local partnerships. Philanthropists - all of us who give to local nonprofits - play a vital role in building our healthy future. People often ask how they can 'give smarter,' be sure that their gifts really make change happen. This is a rare opportunity to discover just that. If making Douglas County healthier is your mission, please come! Add your voice - let nonprofits know how you'd like to hear from them and how you want to help in this brand new decade."

The event begins with a networking reception at 5:30 pm. and the 75-minute program will begin at 6:15 pm. The event is free and open to the public, though registration is required. Call 785-505-5005 or visit for details.

“I’m grateful for the women who have come together to help plan this important event, and I hope our attendees come to understand just how important their support has been and will continue to be as we work together to attain real community health,” said Smith. “We’ll accomplish so much more by working together.”

Autumn Bishop is marketing communications manager for LMH Health.


A collaborative event hosted by the LMH Health Foundation and more than 40 local non-profits

January 29, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.
Featured speaker: Kathleen Sebelius
The Jayhawk Club, 1809 Birdie Way, Lawrence, KS
Free event; register online at or call 785-505-5005
All are welcome

PhilanthroSHE partner organizations:

  • #BeMoreLikeClaire
  • 100 Good Women
  • American Red Cross
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Ballard Center
  • Bert Nash
  • Bishop Seabury Academy
  • Boys & Girls Club
  • CASA
  • Children's Shelter
  • Cottonwood
  • Douglas County Community Foundation
  • Downtown Lawrence
  • Eudora Schools Foundation
  • Generous Change
  • Haase & Long
  • Heartland
  • Insight Women's Center
  • Just Food
  • Kansas Advocates for Better Care
  • Kansas Audio-Reader Network
  • KU Hall Center for the Humanities
  • Lawrence Arts Center
  • Lawrence Habitat
  • Lawrence Meals on Wheels
  • Lawrence Public Library
  • Lawrence Schools Foundation
  • Senior Resource Center
  • Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center
  • Social Service League
  • Summers Spencer & Co
  • Sunrise Project
  • Tenants to Homeowners, Inc.
  • The Write Design
  • Theatre Lawrence
  • Transformations
  • Trinity In-Home Care
  • University of Kansas - Chancellor's Office, Honors Program & KU Libraries
  • University of Kansas Endowment Association
  • VanGo
  • Visiting Nurses Association
  • Watkins Museum
  • Willow Domestic Violence Center

Planning for the future by looking to the past

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries related to LMH Health contact:
Amy Northrop
Director of Communication
Phone: 785-505-2931