Foundation board member helps ensure accessible and innovative health care
By Susie Steckner
When Lew Lancaster retired from a long career in the aerospace and banking industries, he took his expertise in finance to an entirely new role: Sun Health Foundation board member.
“I spent a large portion of my life working in business and industry and really didn’t have a lot of time to get actively involved in the community,” Lew says, “so this gave me a tremendous opportunity, helping the community and giving back.”
The role also gave him the chance to become involved in the world of health care, something that interested both Lew and his wife Cindy as they watched their three daughters go into the field.
“It was a great opportunity to learn more about health care and the future of health care,” he says.
Ten years later, Lew remains actively engaged on the board, currently serving as treasurer, with ongoing support from Cindy. In addition, the couple also has supported local community and nonprofit organizations.
“We’ve been very blessed, and I think it’s important to give back,” Cindy says.
Lew and Cindy met on a blind date as college students at the University of Florida. They pursued careers – he worked in finance and she worked in teaching – and began raising a family. Lew’s job with a Fortune 100 company brought him and the family to Arizona for several years, and ultimately, the couple decided to settle in the desert.
Married 43 years, the couple is active in the West Valley and stays busy with their grandchildren. Cindy, who has a background in special education, is still teaching elementary school children. After all her years in the classroom, she still loves watching the kids grow and change.
Lew’s decision to join the Sun Health Foundation board in 2007 was prompted by more than a desire to give back. Lew was driven by a personal reason. Alzheimer’s disease runs in both of their families, and they wanted to support the Banner Sun Health Research Institute. The institute is renowned for its research of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and benefits from Foundation funding.
After a decade on the Foundation board, Lew continues to be impressed by the range of programs and services offered to the community – everything from the Memory Care Navigator Program that helps seniors age in place to crucial support of Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers.
He calls Sun Health Foundation a “very innovative organization.”
“I think it’s at the forefront of filling what we used to call in industry ‘white space,’ where there’s a gap between health care services provided and the needs of individuals,” he says. “It all fits within the philosophy of Sun Health, in terms of living well as we age.”
Bonnie Olsen, a development director for the Foundation, is grateful for Lew’s commitment and expertise. She says working with professionals who come from the finance field is vital, helping ensure that donors’ money is being properly managed.
Lew gives through his donor-advised fund, which is another wonderful tool used by many Foundation donors to support the work of Sun Health. Lew and Cindy share from the heart in so many ways, Bonnie says.
Donor-Advised Funds (DAF) are an easy and convenient way to make a charitable gift, realize an immediate tax deduction and recommend grants to a favorite charity or charities over time, such as Sun Health Foundation. A DAF allows individuals and families to take an active role in making grants.
“I know, when I go out in the community to raise funds, that our board members are being stewards of donors’ contributions in the highest possible way,” she adds.