Cindy Hilsheimer, founder and managing principal of executive search firm BeecherHill, and the first two-term chair of The James Foundation Board, is all business when it comes to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
She takes very seriously the board’s campaign goal of raising $500 million in support of the new James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, as well as the parallel goal of creating a sustainable flow of $100 million annually to provide ongoing philanthropic revenue. Cindy also serves on the Pelotonia board, where she has been instrumental in bringing in sponsorships and charting a successful course for the event. Working closely with the advancement team at the OSUCCC – James and her fellow board members, Cindy spends countless hours helping to secure funds for the facilities, programs and research that are leading the charge to eradicate cancer.
But that doesn’t mean she and her husband Larry, CFO of Scotts Miracle-Gro and her steadfast partner in philanthropy, don’t have a great time drumming up support for the institution they have come to know and love. Almost every month they scour their rolodexes and invite those they have cultivated relationships with to their New Albany home to dine with a special guest from the OSUCCC – James, often a doctor or researcher. And a perennial favorite guest is Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, director of the OSUCCC and CEO of The James.
Guests are treated to firsthand accounts of the exciting discoveries happening at the OSUCCC – James from physician-scientists at the top of their fields. These “friendraising” dinners, as the Hilsheimers call them, present a rare opportunity for researchers to connect with those who may be in a position to support their work in an intimate setting that allows for a true give-and-take.
Says Cindy, “There is a joy in watching people learn from the doctors. There has never been a dinner here that has lasted less than three hours.” The concept of the dinners has caught on; other foundation board members are now hosting them as well.
In addition to the many ways the Hilsheimers serve the OSUCCC – James, they also give generously to support top funding priorities identified by OSUCCC – James leaders, whose judgment the Hilsheimers trust. During the current But for Ohio State campaign, they have personally given more than $380,000, including a recent gift to support the neuro-oncology research of Vinay Puduvalli, MBBS, director of the Division of Neuro-Oncology at Ohio State.
And just as the Hilsheimers invite the artists whose beautiful paintings adorn their home over for dinner to personalize the experience, they also enjoy dining with the physician-scientists whose research they support. They recently dined with Dr. Puduvalli, who described the critical neuro tumor sequencing work that the Hilsheimers’ gift is making possible.
Despite all they have given, Cindy and Larry consider themselves fortunate in their relationship with the OSUCCC – James. “Inevitably, we’re the biggest beneficiaries,” says Larry. “I’m continually amazed by what we learn from the doctors and the fantastic work happening at The James.”