Tom Protack will take over as President of the Beebe Medical Foundation starting in January 2020, following the retirement of Judy Aliquo, and the announcement of the historic $45.4 million raised during “I Believe in Beebe Campaign.” He says he is excited and honored to have this opportunity.
How do you say thank you to Judy?
The best way I can say thank you is to keep her legacy alive with what she taught me and our team. Not only to continue in her tradition, but to build on it. I think the best way to thank your predecessor is to continue to grow and continue to do better in all the programs.
Her goal was always to get the annual fund to $1 million a year, and we almost accomplished it this past year, just falling a little short. I think it would be a great thank you to call her one day and say, ‘Hey, we’re over $1 million in the annual fund.’
What was the best thing you learned from her?
Probably good stewardship of donors. Part of the art of fundraising is getting to know your donors and building that trust level up and nurturing that relationship. The science is always there on what level of giving is possible, but what she really taught me is – stewarding them and staying in contact with them throughout the relationship. A lot of fundraising shops get the gift and then they don’t go back to the donor until you’re ready to ask for another gift.
Judy really instilled in me that you have to stay in touch with them. Unless you write it down and have a plan, you always think you’re going to call so and so and see how they’re doing and thank them, but that doesn’t always happen. So, we have really hardwired it into the Foundation’s work to make sure we steward all of our donors and stay in contact with them.
What has been your journey to this position?
It’s a funny journey. Judy and I always joke that we met in a bar. But we really didn’t meet at a bar, we were at a not-for-profit southern Delaware networking event at the Big Chill Surf Cantina. She was just named the president and had been here one month, so we exchanged business cards. She invited me to lunch, before I know it, I was applying for a position that was open for Director of Development. Then she and I began to work together and then worked even more closely together with the projects of the 100th Anniversary. Then when we were getting ready to launch the I Believe in Beebe campaign, that’s when I became Vice President, and we really put the Foundation on the map throughout the county.
I had always thought one day she would retire but I never thought it would be this early. She’s worked her whole life, and now she has wonderful grandchildren that she wants to spend time with. The reality came a little sooner than I thought, but it seems like a natural time with the end of the campaign, a new President coming in at the hospital, and to bring the Foundation into post-campaign life. I didn’t think there would be any guarantee, but I was very happy and honored to be the successful candidate.
What are you most excited about?
Of course, I’m excited to welcome our next President and CEO of Beebe Healthcare when that announcement is made, but I’m also really excited about opening all the new facilities because people love to see their gifts in action. You write a check and you donate to something, and you always get nice thank you letters, but to cut ribbons and have people walk through the brand new facilities and meet our award-winning clinical teams, to see the technology and the innovation, and see the vision that we are trying to make everyone healthier – I’m really excited that our donors and community members will get to see that and really see that Next Generation of Care with Beebe.
It will be especially gratifying to see the locals touring the new facilities. I grew up here in Delaware and in Sussex County. We have seen Beebe grow throughout the years, so to see people like myself who will be able to walk through – even just the hybrid operating room – that is going to be a great sight. I know they will be so impressed with the facilities and proud they were a part of making this dream a reality to bring technology and innovation to our community.
What’s next for Beebe Medical Foundation?
We are going to celebrate the end of the I Believe in Beebe campaign and continue to steward those donors. There’s going to be close to 200 people’s names on the donor wall – those who have committed to the largest campaign in our history.
Bringing Kay Young on as the next Executive Director to takeover my role will be exciting because, when you’re in campaign mode, you’re so laser focused and so driven on a lot of the big things, it’s going to allow us a little time at the Foundation to look at some of our regular programs and spend a little bit more time fine-tuning them.
I also see us really partnering with executive leaders of Beebe’s services lines. We have great relationships, but now that we’re not in campaign mode, we can work with directors and leaders of services lines and ask them what is on their wish list that might not be in a capital project.
As we meet new donors, they are more and more asking questions about endowments, programs, services, and helping those who are less fortunate. A lot of the newer donors are asking: ‘What do you do about people who can’t afford cancer care?’ ‘What do you do about people who have these chronic diseases? How do you make them healthier so they don’t keep going into the hospital?’
This is where partnerships with our internal leaders can really help us understand the steps Beebe is already taking and where donors can make a big impact to improve the services we provide.