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Michele Thomas Dole is the new president and CEO of the Community Health Network Foundation. She brings several years of philanthropic experience to this role, most recently serving as a vice president with JP Morgan since 2004. Originally from Columbus, Indiana, Michele currently resides in Fishers with her husband of three years, Robert Dole. Of her local heritage, she says, “My family has been in Indiana for generations, and I’m really proud to be a Hoosier. This is home to me.” Read on to learn more about her deep commitment to philanthropy, as well as her vision for the Community Health Network Foundation.

How do you like to spend your free time? Do you have any hobbies or belong to any organizations?
Volunteering is something I’m really passionate about. I spend my time with the Girl Scouts of the USA, as well as my church, the First Baptist Church of Indianapolis, quite a bit. I help with stewardship mostly, fund raising and working on the finance committee. I have also spent the past three years on the Indiana Pacers Foundation grant committee.

As for hobbies, I play tennis every week, I am a gardener, and my husband and I love to travel. The most recent trip we took was to Aruba. We try to visit a tropical place every year, but we really enjoy our local travels as well. Last year, we went to Nashville, Tennessee for our anniversary.

We also really enjoy spending time with family and friends. We don’t come from big families, but Robert and I have a lot of lifelong friends, and that is something we really cherish.

With your new role at the foundation, what can people in the network expect from your leadership style?
I believe in very open communication. I really expect people to give us feedback for areas of improvement and if we can improve something. Everyone is a stakeholder in that, and they need to make sure that we know those things, so we can help elevate the network.

I also try to help people use the talents they already have and grow upon the things that they want to improve on. I try to get people to get where they want to be. Overall, and probably most importantly, I have a real passion for philanthropy and have spent most of my career in one way or the other involved in philanthropy. That tends to pervade everything that I do.

What is your personal vision for the foundation?
We need to elevate the culture of philanthropy and focus on our fundraising capacity. We have a very deserving mission. One of the things that has become very clear to me is that we serve people in their health care from birth through hospice, and we do it very well and we do it every day. I really want us to focus on using those resources that we already have and elevate that in such a way that it also helps us bring more resources to the foundation, so that we can continue to provide access, provide convenience and make sure more people receive good care in central Indiana.

Among the goals of our strategic plan, one key initiative will be optimizing the foundation’s ability to generate capital. What can we expect to see in how you anticipate this playing out in the future?
I think it’s having the discipline to really focus on core fund raising activity and likewise making sure, on the stewardship side, that we are stewarding our donors well. It is vital that we are, in fact, our mission in action; that we do deliver on our promises. It’s coming in every day with a focus and with a discipline around our activity. It’s my belief that with the network’s strategic plan and the foundation embarking on its own, together, that will bring more clarity to us and those who work with the foundation.

Considering Community’s stance on health care reform, specifically in supplying affordable access to all, what do you see as the foundation’s role in accomplishing this?
We can leverage things that we’ve already done and done well, like the Jane Pauley Community Health Center. If we are able to look to the center as an example of something to evaluate and transfer to other parts of central Indiana, that’s incredible. Not to mention that the Pauley center was such a nice example of integration and partnership, not just Community doing the work alone, but it was us partnering with other outside resources, like the Warren Township schools. Those are things that I think people expect of us. People expect us to be resourceful, they expect us to partner, to not duplicate efforts, and that’s part of our stewardship responsibility and accountability to donors as well.

How can the foundation partner with the network to achieve these strategic goals, and how can employees help?
We, at the foundation, need to be told the great “mission moments” that happen every day throughout the network. How someone’s family was personally affected, how we saved someone’s life, how we changed someone’s life. Since we aren’t in the halls of our hospitals every day, we don’t get to see these things firsthand, but those are the stories and experiences that we transfer and transition in such a way that it helps us be better fund raisers. Many times, those moments are celebrated at the nurses’ station or in a meeting of the physicians, but they’re not always told to us in such a way to really help amplify the story, and those are the things that we really look to. Those grateful patient experiences, to me, are key.

Naturally, we also look to and hope that our employees will participate with their own personal gifts and encourage others out in the community to do likewise.

On the network level, what we at the foundation aim to do, and this is a very clear conviction that I have, is to walk step-in-step with the network. We are not an island. We are here to support the network, to be an integral part of it and to be playing from the same playbook. That, in my mind, as we make decisions at the foundation, will be one of the key gold standards: Does this support the network? Does this run in parallel to what the network, strategically, is trying to accomplish?