Xandra and Joe McKeown have cultivated a remarkably long and multifaceted relationship with OHSU. They’ve been board members, patients, advisors, donors and connectors. Over the past 25 years, their partnership with and support of OHSU has created a ripple effect of change that will last long into the future.
The McKeowns are proud Oregonians — Joe grew up in Coos Bay and Xandra in Pendleton. After raising their sons in Portland, the McKeowns returned to Coos Bay and embraced life on the southern Oregon coast. They both credit their rural roots and values for their unwavering support to OHSU.
“What we like about rural Oregon,” explained Joe, “is there’s a strong propensity to give back. We’ve been successful, and we felt rural Oregon was in real need of support they should have. Simply put, the values of living in a rural part of the state are important to us. There’s a strong sense of community and support, and that appeals to us.”
Their connection with OHSU began much earlier, though. While pursuing an M.B.A., Xandra happened to be in the same class as former OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A.
“We were in a study group for two years,” said Xandra. “Our families became great friends and my husband and I became more and more interested in OHSU.”
Xandra joined Doernbecher Children’s Hospital’s Board (now part of the Doernbecher Philanthropy Board) in 2000, and later served as that board’s president. In 2014 she became an OHSU Foundation Board Trustee and has lent her time and business acumen to close to a dozen board committees, and her involvement continues to expand.
As donors, the couple has been generous and steadfast supporters of the Knight Cancer Institute, the Knight Cardiovascular Institute and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. They often have supported immediate or urgent needs on short notice, such as the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund and the Doernbecher Growing@Home NICU in-home monitoring program. They also have a history of honoring beloved institutional leaders, such as Robertson and the late Mark A. Richardson, M.D., M.B.A., former dean of the OHSU School of Medicine.
“I feel a personal affinity with OHSU,” said Joe. “They have seen me through some major health issues — I received wonderful care and treatment at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute and the Knight Cancer Institute. My providers still follow up with me.”
“We’ve become acquainted with so many amazing physicians, members of the leadership team and Foundation employees. They are all just incredible,” said Xandra.
Rural health enhancement is a key focus for the McKeowns, both in their personal giving and in Joe’s role as the President of the Judith Ann Mogan Foundation. The Judith Ann Mogan Foundation is dedicated to supporting programs and building strategic partnerships in Coos, Curry and coastal Douglas counties. “OHSU is a vital partner throughout rural Oregon, including the south coast. We are proud of funding a couple of sizeable grants to OHSU that provide direct service to this region,” said Joe.
With Joe’s involvement, the Judith Ann Mogan Foundation has made a concerted effort to support rural health care. Their grants have funded a number of OHSU initiatives, including transportation and lodging for south coast patients receiving care at the Knight Cancer Institute; improvements to the OHSU Rural Campus – South Coast facilities; and supporting the expansion of the Novel Interventions in Children’s Healthcare (NICH) program, which provides support and resources for families navigating chronic health conditions.
“We know how important quality health care at all stages of life is,” said Xandra. “Our community — us included — have benefited from OHSU’s rural health initiatives, including partnerships with OHSU’s cardiovascular and cancer programs. We have seen how those partnerships really work to benefit us all, from the individual to the community level. For many families, it’s a big deal to no longer have to travel to Portland for specialized care.”
“Establishing rural training programs and bringing new health care providers into rural communities makes a profound economic impact, too,” added Joe.
Xandra and Joe’s passion for supporting OHSU is infectious, and they do their best to bring new supporters to the cause.
They enjoy hosting “salons” — small, social fundraising events — in support of the OHSU Foundation in their Coos Bay home, which allows them to share their enthusiasm and drive home the importance of OHSU’s programs to rural Oregon. Their salons have introduced their community to Joaquin E. Cigarroa, M.D., Director of the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, and to Sanjiv Kaul, M.D., the Ernest C. Swigert Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and former director of the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. They also hosted a talk by former OHSU Provost Jeanette Mladenovic, M.D., M.B.A., who spoke about the importance of rural training programs for aspiring doctors, nurses and other clinicians.
“Our philanthropy is targeted,” said Joe. “We don’t take a shotgun approach. We stick to our priorities because we want to make a difference.”
Their support of OHSU has made a difference. Thousands of Oregonians have benefited from their generosity — from the parents who can bring their newborns home sooner with Growing@Home, to the rural heart patients who can access expert care in their own communities, to current students exploring the joys of practicing in rural Oregon.