Palm Beach philanthropist Donna Mulholland, a retired hospital executive and lawyer who spent more than two decades working in the health care industry, is the first female to chair the board of trustees for the nonprofit Quantum Foundation.
Since it was formed in 1997, the West Palm Beach-based foundation has awarded more than $125 million in grants to local nonprofits and governmental agencies that improve the health of residents in the county.
Mulholland was named to the position in January and will serve a two-year term. She has served on the foundation’s board since 2008.
Name: Donna Mulholland
Hometown: Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Where you live now: Palm Beach and Pennsylvania
About your organization: Quantum Foundation is a private, nonprofit, West Palm Beach-based health foundation that was formed with the net proceeds from the sale of JFK Medical Center in Atlantis. The organization’s mission is philanthropic — one of our goals to improve the health of Palm Beach County residents. Since its founding in 1997, we’ve awarded over $125 million to more than 450 grantees in the county. The Foundation’s current assets total approximately $140 million.
First paying job and what you learned from it: My first paying job was with the state of Ohio’s Department of Health’s Legal Affairs Section. I do think that your first job can be extremely important, not only because you start to experience the pride and self-satisfaction of earning your first paycheck but because you are able to test if this job represents a path you really want to pursue for the rest of your career.
First break in the business: After spending two years after graduating from law school working with the Department of Health, I became a hospital’s in-house legal counsel for about 10 years. I was then approached by my boss to consider the hospital’s chief operating officer position. After two years in this position, I became the hospital’s president and CEO. I knew that the continued delivery of quality medical care, effective people management skills, and positive financial results would be the keys to my success. After almost 24 years, I retired from the hospital as its president and CEO and president and CEO of the hospital’s parent organization.
Best business book you ever read: I loved Jack Welch’s book “Straight from the Gut” for its business insights, but as far as an inspiring personal and career story, I also loved Lee Iacocca’s autobiography.
Best piece of work advice you ever received: This actually came from Dan, my late husband, who was a college athlete and a great proponent of teamwork. He reminded me repeatedly that you are always part of a team, even if you are the president and CEO, and you’re only as good as the other members of your team. The organization’s successes are the team’s successes and not just yours.
What do you tell young people about your current organization’s work? Quantum Foundation is committed to recruiting and retaining a strong health care workforce for Palm Beach County. We fund programs throughout the educational pipeline, from middle schools to graduate schools and medical schools, to help support people choosing health care careers. I see opportunities today and in the future working in the health care/medical sector, not only for young people who are starting out but also for those thinking about a possible career change. As the baby boomers age, health care opportunities will only continue to grow. Florida is at the epicenter of this need.
What do you see ahead for the health of Palm Beach County? Years ago, Quantum Foundation embarked on a massive financial undertaking to help create new and aid existing primary care clinics in the county that provide quality care for people regardless of their ability to pay. Foundcare, Genesis, the Community Health Center of West Palm Beach, Caridad and Jupiter’s MyClinic are all important examples of these primary care clinics. These clinics are thriving and serving tens of thousands of patients in our county each year. Our support of education programs will also help meet the health care needs of an ever-growing population.
Where can we find you when you are not working? Usually in my kitchen! I love to cook and bake. I also spend considerable time working on fundraising activities for some of the nonprofits I’m involved with: Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida, Foundcare, the Center for Family Services, Rotary and the Cancer Alliance of Help and Hope (an agency where I have recently become involved because I am a cancer survivor and, unfortunately, recently lost my husband to cancer).
Favorite smartphone app: I just bought myself a new flip-phone, so I’m not an app user. Obviously, my technology skills are very limited!
What are the most important traits you look for when choosing to work with an organization? Integrity. Reputation. Results … and a mission I embrace.