Mary Cameron Frey
March 10, 2008
The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University was endowed by Ann Lurie after her husband's death from colon cancer in 1990. The National Cancer Institute in 1998 awarded the center the "comprehensive" designation, reflecting high standards of research, patient care and prevention. It is the only cancer center in Illinois and one of only 39 in the nation to hold this status. Last fall, Ms. Lurie, a former pediatric intensive care nurse, pledged $100 million to build the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, to be completed in 2012.
On Tuesday evening, Ms. Lurie and Maggie Daley will co-chair the first major fundraiser for the center, honoring its director, Steve Rosen, and his colleagues.
CRAIN'S: In addition to the time you spend working with the cancer center, can you tell us about some of your other endeavors?
MS. LURIE: I'm president of Lurie Investments, of the Lurie Foundation and of Africa Infectious Disease Village Clinics, a U.S.-based charity. I founded and personally oversee the operation of AID Village Clinics, a communicable disease initiative offering comprehensive medical clinics for the Maasai in rural southeast Kenya. I also have other health, education and environmental initiatives in China and Nepal.
CRAIN'S: Tell me about the clinics in Kenya.
MS. LURIE: I started going to the area on safari and was asked to start a nursery school for the Maasai children to prepare them for first grade. My daughter and I started the school ourselves, using the curriculum from Head Start. We noticed that many of the children were sick, and from this came the clinic. I visit the clinic seven or eight times a year and run it. We have a staff of 110 on site and have treated more than 28,000 (patients) since opening. Many were really sick when we first saw them, and most are not sick anymore.
CRAIN'S: How is the fundraiser coming along?
MS. LURIE: The party is being held in the atrium of the hospital. It's just about sold out and is entirely underwritten, and we've raised more than $1 million already. Actress Bonnie Hunt, who is a former oncology nurse, will provide entertainment.
CRAIN'S: You were named one of America's 50 most generous donors in the January issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. You must have strong feelings about the subject.
MS. LURIE: I've stressed with my six children that it doesn't always have to be about money — philanthropy means caring about and loving mankind. Writing a check with no involvement is counter to my view of philanthropy. I believe people should do due diligence and have some involvement with the entities they support.
For the rest of this story from the March 10, 2008 issue of Crain's Chicago Business, click here: