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A Fresh Vision for the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital

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At the start of 2014, Kenneth H. Suelthaus, a prominent St. Louis attorney and vice chairman of the Polsinelli law firm, became the new board chair of The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Susan Ell joined our team as executive director and vice president of the Foundation in February.

New Foundation leadership: Susan Ell, executive director and vice president, and Kenneth H. Suelthaus, board chair.

Ken and Susan’s complementing experience, expertise and philosophy create unique synergy. Both have law degrees. Both are committed to service—to donors, patients and the community. And both are passionate about Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“I’m happy to have joined a wonderful organization with such a far-reaching mission,” Susan says. “We’re building on our successes and strengths to create a world-class foundation to support a world-class hospital.”

Prior to joining the Foundation, Susan served as the network vice president for philanthropy at SSM Health Care in St. Louis, as well as chief development officer for Advocate Health Care in Oak Brook, Ill. At Advocate Charitable Foundation, her roles included president, chief operating officer, vice president of development, and vice president of planned giving. In addition, Susan was director of planned giving at Children’s Memorial Foundation in Chicago and at Lake Forest College.

Susan’s career took an interesting path toward philanthropy. She began her career as a registered nurse. She then graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and went on to earn her juris doctor degree at Washington University School of Law.

“Because of my nursing and law background, some people wonder why I’m drawn to philanthropy,” Susan says. “It’s all about service. We’re building the Foundation to have the most impact on leading research and patient care.”

“Susan is a strong leader with a genuine interest in people, whether they are donors, board members, patients or team members,” says Rich Liekweg, president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and group president of BJC HealthCare. “Her focus is aspirational: to be the best at what we do to help the most people.”

Ken and Susan have been working together on numerous initiatives from the moment they both took the helm. “In addition to her outstanding credentials and experience, I’ve been extremely impressed with Susan’s organizational skills, her collaborative style, and her desire to make a difference in her new role,” Ken says.

Ken, who also serves as member of the board of directors at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, was first elected to the Foundation board in 2006. In 2007, he joined the Fundraising Committee and was elected chair of the committee in 2008. He also was co-chair of the Foundation’s annual illumination cancer fundraising gala in 2008.

With more than 40 years experience in corporate law, Ken graduated from University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and received his law degree from University of Missouri. Among his distinctions, he has been selected for inclusion in every edition of The Best Lawyers in America since 1995.

“With the combination of Susan and Ken’s leadership and dedication, we look forward to growing donor support for innovative research, patient care and services, medical education and community outreach to benefit St. Louis and beyond,” Rich says.

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