Eskenazi Health Foundation Appoints Longtime Philanthropy Leader Executive Vice President; President & CEO announces Plans to Retire

Eskenazi Health Foundation today announced that Angela White, CFRE, senior consultant and chief executive officer of strategic and philanthropic consulting firm Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates (JGA), will join the Foundation’s leadership team as executive vice president on August 5, 2024, and then succeed Ernie Vargo II, CFRE, as president and chief executive officer when he retires on January 15, 2026.

A longtime philanthropic leader, White’s career has included roles in strategy and philanthropy consulting, higher education, and teaching. Joining JGA in 1996, she became CEO in 2011, responsible for providing day-to-day leadership to the firm and guiding the JGA staff, while continuing to provide tailored consulting services directly to clients. She has a high level of expertise in philanthropic consulting in health care, education, social services, arts, and faith-based organizations. 

“Angela is an exceptional leader who has been a trusted partner of Eskenazi Health Foundation for many years and knows us well. We are pleased to bring her diverse experience and knowledge to our leadership team,” said Dennis Oklak, incoming Eskenazi Health Foundation board chair. “We are also thankful for the runway Ernie has given us in planning for his retirement, giving Angela valuable time for transition and ensuring that we continue our upward trajectory of success.”

Before joining JGA, White was the executive director for institutional advancement at the University of Indianapolis. She began her career in development at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

“I am honored to join the Eskenazi Health Foundation team to continue the legacy of leadership, generosity, and commitment to a healthy Indianapolis community for all. I am grateful to my colleagues and clients at Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates for the privilege of leading the firm and supporting important nonprofit missions across the country,” said White. “Philanthropy is a powerful tool to change lives, and I look forward to working with the Eskenazi Health Foundation to lift up our neighbors and continue to change lives for the better.”

In 2022, the Eskenazi Health Foundation Board of Directors approved the Beyond Barriers campaign – a $60 million initiative which demonstrates Eskenazi Health’s commitment to improving life expectancy equity for all residents of Indianapolis. The goal is to leverage Eskenazi Health’s strengths and partnerships through a first-of-its-kind integrated and sustainable model.

The Beyond Barriers campaign is centered around three areas of wellness including health care, mental health care, and food as medicine. Efforts are focused within three recently established health equity zones, geographic areas in which Eskenazi Health and community partners work together to address social determinants of health including racial equity and economic mobility with the goal of increasing the life expectancy of those living within the area. The three health equity zones are being implemented at three Eskenazi Health Center sites: Eskenazi Health Center West 38th Street – International Marketplace, Eskenazi Health Center East 38th Street – Northeast Corridor, and Eskenazi Health Center Grassy Creek – Far Eastside. 

“Eskenazi Health Foundation is shining brightly in their pursuit of support for the mission of Eskenazi Health,” said Chris Callahan, M.D., chief research and development officer at Eskenazi Health. “The Foundation’s board, leadership, and our philanthropic supporters have helped launch a new vision for healthy communities. In this new vision, we are working with community partners to integrate medical, mental health, and social care. Angela, familiar to many of us through her previous work with us and in the Indianapolis community, is the perfect person to carry forward the vision of achieving health equity, one neighbor at a time.”

Vargo joined Eskenazi Health Foundation as president and chief executive officer in 2010 after serving the organization for several years in a consultant role. During Vargo’s tenure, Eskenazi Health Foundation transformed from a small foundation focused on grants administration to one of the most prominent public hospital and health system foundations in the United States. Building and fostering a culture of philanthropy, Vargo helped to bring Eskenazi Health Foundation’s operations in line with its peer hospital foundations with more than $180 million raised.

“I am grateful to all of the donors, Eskenazi Health Foundation board of directors, and the teams at Eskenazi Health and Eskenazi Health Foundation who believe in our mission to serve everyone in our community, especially the most vulnerable,” said Vargo. The Foundation is fortunate to have Angela’s commitment and leadership to move the Foundation to new heights and serve even more of our neighbors.”

Vargo led the Eskenazi Health Campaign, which raised more than $87 million for a new public hospital campus with support from more than 3,500 contributors, including Sidney and Lois Eskenazi of Indianapolis, who provided a record $40 million gift in 2011. Overall, the campaign was one of the largest ever for a public hospital in the United States, and it inspired one of the largest employee-giving campaigns in health care history with Eskenazi Health physicians and employees contributing nearly $5 million.

“The unprecedented campaign for the new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health campus represented a true game changer for public hospitals. It put public hospitals and health systems on the map for the kind of philanthropy that had historically been reserved for private, nonprofit hospitals and propelled us forward in ways that would not have been possible without it,” said Lisa Harris, M.D., chief executive officer of Eskenazi Health. “I am deeply grateful to Ernie for the vision and leadership he provided at such a pivotal time in our organization’s history, and optimistic about the future as I look forward to working with Angela in advancing our mission.” 

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