Kathleen Driscoll officially assumed her role as UMass Memorial Health Care’s senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer, a newly established position, April 6 as coronavirus cases were surging, intensive care units were filling, and, as part of leading the region’s response to the pandemic, UMMHC was days away from opening the DCU Center as the state’s first field hospital.
“I walked in at a time of enormous crisis,” Driscoll said during a recent interview, “but I walked in at a time where I could not believe the leadership, how focused on, ‘It’s all about the caregivers and it’s all about the patients and we need to do everything we can.’ We were getting calls, ‘We need these iPads. We need these telecarts.’ We felt like we could be on the front lines with them to say, ‘OK, what is it that you need? And let us now go quickly and try to find funding or direct donations.’
“I walked into a vibrant, philanthropic effort without us having a philanthropic department yet,” Driscoll said. “That was really a remarkable time. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I look at it that I came in not at a difficult time, but a challenging time, an inspiring time.”
Driscoll’s background in management, leadership, fundraising, marketing, communications and operations stood out as UMass Memorial Health Care founded its office of philanthropy to concentrate fundraising efforts on its clinical care system and edify the community about UMMHC’s importance, especially as it, like other hospitals, faces financial challenges.
“UMass Memorial is an invaluable asset to this community and has been for decades,” Dr. Eric W. Dickson, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, said. “Our worth was made crystal clear during the pandemic when our caregivers performed tremendously while providing care to the sickest patients in the region. This is why Kathleen’s role is so vital. We have to ensure the safety net is protected, and that challenge has become increasingly difficult over the years.
“Kathleen has demonstrated over the course of her career that she can make a difference for organizations like ours,” Dickson said, “that has a mission to provide for the most vulnerable members of a community. In her short time here she has already made a difference, and I am very excited to work with her in pursuit of a stronger health care system.”
The mission of UMass Memorial Health Care, which is the largest health care system, largest not-for-profit health care system and largest employer in Central Massachusetts, is clear – “Best Place to Give Care, Best Place to Get Care.”
Those words are painted prominently on a center wall in the conference room near Driscoll’s third-floor office at One Biotech on the University Campus, and where she talked about her first eight months spearheading UMMHC’s new fundraising arm.
“We’re a world-class hospital with world-class doctors coming from a world-class medical school,” Driscoll said. “Let’s leverage that. People are interested to know and hear about certain advances we’ve made here. I feel like I’m at ground zero of an opportunity is the best way to look at it.”
Driscoll is a native New Yorker but, after graduating from Boston College in 1978, has lived most of her life in Massachusetts. She and her husband, Kevin, raised their six children on the South Shore.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from BC (as well as a master’s in education from the College of New Rochelle), and her first job out of college was as a special needs teacher in Baltimore. Driscoll returned to New York, continued as a substitute teacher while also waitressing, and eventually got into advertising. She worked for two firms in New York, then at Hill Holliday in Boston.
Driscoll spent 11 years at John Hancock Financial in several capacities, including vice president of corporate communications. Among her duties was handling all the company’s Olympic marketing in the United States. Driscoll attended four Olympic Games. She’s a big sports fan. College hockey, no surprise for a BC graduate, is among her favorites.
Before coming to UMMHC, Driscoll was the secretary for institutional advancement at the Archdiocese of Boston. During her tenure, she led the first capital campaign in 17 years that raised $150 million. She started a new shared service development model called Boston Catholic Development Services, which annually raises more than $23 million. A passionate advocate for Catholic education in urban settings, she led the Campaign for Catholic Schools, which has raised more than $100 million to benefit Catholic education in the archdiocese.