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Have You Met Ethel Hoffman?

Supporting the health and welfare of children is a core value for Ethel Hoffman, both in her professional life and volunteer activities. As the Vice President of Managed Care and Business Development of Phoenix Children's Hospital, Ethel is proud of what the organization does. "Here, everything we do about is about the kids. Our mission is geared exclusively towards children; we understand that this population has very unique needs that change with their stage of development. Children are NOT just smaller adults! Healthcare is such an important part of a child’s growth and development and my heart just goes out to those patients that we serve. Every child should have the opportunity to reach their maximum potential."

One of Ethel's volunteer activities is supporting WellCare Foundation. This nonprofit’s mission is to provide health care services to young families and single working moms whose incomes disqualify them from government assistance but cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for health care or health insurance. These families struggle to make ends meet with costs for food and shelter consuming virtually all of their economic resources. But as Ethel notes, "The women who come to us clearly do not have the entitlement mentality; they truly are putting forth the effort to provide for their families, but they simply need a hand up."

Ethel became involved with WellCare Foundation about a year ago after she was was recommended as someone at Phoenix Children’s Hospital who might be very active in supporting WellCare’s mission. "My name came to mind, I believe, because I have a history of being a strong advocate for children’s causes. My healthcare experience coupled with my role at PCH positions me well to be strong asset for WellCare. Being in the healthcare system, I have access to many of the doctors and other people who can help support WellCare’s mission, as well as identify families who could benefit from WellCare’s services. WellCare has over a hundred physicians and other health care practitioners who volunteer their services for the benefit of WellCare families. They give of their time with little or no recognition—their volunteerism is really quite amazing."

Until a little over six years ago, Ethel was a lifelong resident of Ohio. "My parents relocated to Arizona for retirement about 17 years ago, and then my oldest daughter and her family moved to Tucson. At first, we really didn’t consider living in Arizona, but the more we came out to visit, the more we grew to like the area. I happened to be down here when I got a call from a recruiter about a position with Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The hospital had just gone through some difficult times and was in a rebuilding stage. Always one to embrace a challenge, I visited the hospital and was so impressed by the campus! I had worked for a number of hospitals, both very large multi-hospital health systems and small community hospitals, so I didn’t think it would be much of a surprise. But Phoenix Children’s, with everything geared towards children, was so different. I just knew this was where I needed to be!"

Hoffman remains impressed with Arizona. "I love the diversity we encounter here, both in the people and in the geography. It is still amazing to me that in two and a half hours I can go from the warmth of the desert to the mountains where I can go skiing! Most people outside of Arizona aren't aware of how diverse and unique we are." In her leisure hours Ethel enjoys hiking. "It clears the mind to be near nature!" And she also spends many volunteer hours serving on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. She also serves as a member of Community Investment Committee for Mesa United Way.

"I think most people see me as very reserved because I am generally quiet, dependable & responsible. But I also have a very adventurous side to my personality!"

As the grandmother of eight, Ethel remarks, "I have two daughters who have given me all these grandchildren, and at different stages in their lives both of my girls could have benefited from an organization like WellCare. I feel fortunate that none of the children in my family has had a serious illness. I can certainly count my blessings! Not all families are that fortunate. Though many needy families don't know about WellCare, the services it can provide for them could make such a difference in their lives. We need to get the word out."

She emphasizes, "WellCare is not yet well known, but we have been around for ten years. We started on a small scale primarily through the efforts of Marge Ebeling, WellCare’s founder, who has given tirelessly of her time and talents to further the WellCare mission. WellCare has continued to grow under Marge’s leadership—exponentially over the last couple of years. We have gone from one main clinic to four regional clinics and really need to continue to expand—the needs are so great. We need to spread the word about the important work we do. On October 9th, WellCare will hold its annual fundraiser, called Showtime, at the new Talking Stick Resort. I want to encourage everyone to support this event!"

What are your local volunteer activities? Board of Directors, WellCare Foundation; Board of Directors, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Arizona Chapter; Member, Community Investment Committee, Mesa United Way.

Who inspired you to give back to your community? I believe every individual has a responsibility to earn his/her place in the community and be a contributing member of society. There should be no free rides. There are many ways to accomplish this. Some of us are just able to give back in ways that are more visible than others.

Which fundraising event is your favorite? The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children’s Hospital annual fundraiser. And, of course, WellCare.

Favorite restaurant? Lon’s at the Hermosa.

Who do you most admire, and why? That is really hard to say because I admire aspects of so many people but for very different reasons. I tend to admire most, though, people who have used their natural talents to be successful and then have given back—like Bill Gates.

If your life were a movie, who would you want to play your part? Meryl Streep

Do you have any pets? We used to have 3 cats, but they died one by one. The last one died about 3 months ago. I think we’ll do some traveling before getting another.

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? That I’m not very good in the kitchen.

What's the best lesson you're learned through the years? One that I am still learning: don’t be so hard on yourself and take time to smell the roses!

What was your first job? At 14 I got my first job as a page in the city library. I was ecstatic!

What is your greatest indulgence? By all means, dark chocolate.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Being the anchor for my family and the "best grandma".

What is your most treasured possession? My 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe—because I need it to get around. Otherwise, possessions are only as valuable as the memories that go along with them. Possessions are only things; people and feelings are real.

What is the quality you most like in people? Honesty; no hidden agendas.

Favorite books / Writers? Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. All of Dan Brown’s books are to some extent educational, intriguing and entertaining.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? All talk and no substance.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? What spare time?

What would we be most surprised to know about you? I am very adventurous and would be living a very different lifestyle were it not for my sense of responsibility.
What is the best advice you have ever received? When I was learning how to drive I had a lot of angst about staying in the middle of the lane. I was focusing too much on the lines on either side of the road until someone told me not to try to align myself with the stripes on the road, but to focus on the road ahead—the big picture. That advice has been helpful in so many different settings. You have to focus on the big picture to get a sense of where you are and where you are going.

What are some challenges facing nonprofits? In tough economic times, everything becomes a charitable purpose. Even for-profit businesses suffer and need to reduce their workforce, which in turn results in more people needing charity. The problem is that scarce resources become even scarcer and there are not enough to go around as it is. Meanwhile, the demand continues to grow. Healthcare is particularly vulnerable because (a) people don’t understand what things really cost; and (b) there is no relationship between what services cost and what people pay. We’ve really created quite a mess.