Getting to know Jill Eiland | OHSU Foundation

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Jill Eiland, a well-respected business and civic leader and native Oregonian, was recently named interim president to lead the OHSU Foundation.

Jill’s unmatched knowledge of Oregon, coupled with deep ties in the business and civic communities, makes her an exceptional choice to lead the Foundation through this transition as OHSU begins the search for a permanent leader. She brings decades of leadership and insights from successfully navigating public policy and communication issues for Oregon’s leading businesses, educational institutions and community organizations, including Intel, Knowledge Learning Corporation (now KinderCare Education) and Portland General Electric, among others. We are delighted to introduce Jill — in her own words — to our donor community and invite all of you to get to know her.

What led you to take on this role of interim president for the OHSU Foundation?

As a native Oregonian, I have a long history with and considerable admiration for OHSU and its positive impact on our region. I believe I was in the right place at the right time with the right set of skills to step in to add bench strength to the outstanding OHSU Foundation team while we collectively begin the search for a new permanent leader. I am very happy that my schedule allowed me to be available for consideration.

Can you tell us what you are looking forward to most during this period of transition and change?

Providing an outside perspective is an opportunity to contribute to the long-term health of the OHSU Foundation, its fundraising initiatives, and its ongoing success during a brief period of transition. My main goal is to help the organization continue to focus on its mission to ignite the power of philanthropy. I intend to lend my talents and to share all that I have learned throughout my long career for the benefit of OHSU, the OHSU Foundation, and its many supporters, stakeholders and donors and to help my teammates manage the inevitable changes that will continue to occur.

From your perspective, what is the role philanthropy plays to advance OHSU’s mission of bringing better health and hope for all?

As the OHSU Foundation website proudly proclaims, we advance OHSU’s mission by igniting the power of philanthropy. We exist to secure private support to advance OHSU’s vital missions and to invest wisely the generous gifts we receive from donors. I cannot say it better than it has already been said.

What do you think are the greatest strengths of the foundation? And, what are the greatest opportunities on the horizon for the foundation and OHSU? 

The Foundation has many strengths, including an outstanding staff, an impressive board of directors who give of their time and treasure, generous donors, a significant endowment, a compelling story to share about the need for philanthropy, hundreds of success stories and patient profiles, and a regional understanding of the value of OHSU to Oregon and the world.

The recent announcement of the Oregon Hospital Expansion Project that will expand OHSU’s ability to serve our community and grow capacity by one-third (to 184 new inpatient beds) and the ongoing success of the Knight Cancer Institute, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, the Casey Eye Institute, multiple research centers and institutes, and the incredible schools that are educating our next generation of innovative health care professionals provide ample opportunity to support OHSU’s important missions of healing, teaching, discovery and outreach.

The past two years have been incredibly difficult for many. Can you share what inspired you most about the incredible health care workers at OHSU and their service and dedication during the pandemic?

All of OHSU’s frontline workers exhibit exceptional courage, commitment and skill each and every day, even before an international pandemic. The influx of COVID-19 patients enabled OHSU to be a leader in the delivery of life-saving health care applications and to share its knowledge with other health care institutions. As I was quarantining at home, I watched with wonder the many stories about heroism, dedication, humanity and selflessness that OHSU health care teams exhibited for an extended period of time. I knew my fellow citizens were in good hands. We all owe them a huge debt of ongoing gratitude as we continue to battle this disease, as well as others.

As the state’s leading academic medical center, OHSU plays an important role serving the needs of our communities. From your perspective as a business and community leader, why is OHSU’s leadership position, regionally and nationally, so important to the health of our community and economy?

OHSU’s track record of academic health center leadership since 1955 is part of the fabric of the Pacific Northwest. As we know, OHSU takes on the toughest challenges in health care to transform human health. Thousands of OHSU employees contribute to our communities in countless ways as parents, home owners, community volunteers, research experts and donors. The positive economic impact of the entire institution places OHSU at the top of the state’s economic roadmap. With more than $1.5 billion in assets, the OHSU Foundation is one of the largest public university foundations in the Northwest. None of us should take OHSU’s success for granted. They choose to grow here and to remain involved in the civic life of the entire region. We are better for their leadership and commitment to excellence.

What does leadership mean to you? Civic leadership, community leadership, philanthropic leadership?

Leadership is sometimes hard to describe, but I know it when I see it. It is selfless service to others.

For me, civic leadership means giving of time and treasure based on personal passion to worthy institutions that enrich the lives of all Oregonians and advocate for their members. The Portland Business Alliance, Oregon Business & Industry and the Oregon Business Council are representative member-driven organizations that drive collaboration among business leaders to address priority issues.

Community leadership is exhibited by investing in results-oriented nonprofit partners who address the many challenges we all face, and to give generously to those serving the neediest people in our communities. Volunteering on nonprofit boards, participating in volunteer events, mentoring up-and-coming nonprofit leaders and advocating for additional investments are opportunities to make a difference.

Philanthropic leadership is obviously about investing available resources to advance important causes like the ones OHSU addresses: saving lives, pursuing research, expanding access to high-quality health care, educating the next generation of health care workers, and improving the health of all Oregonians. Financial resources are the most measurable philanthropic contributions, but investing in people through board service, mentoring and advocacy are other meaningful ways to contribute.  

You have deep connections in the community, having served on numerous government and civic boards. Can you speak to the importance of community within the realm of philanthropy — and in service of advancing OHSU’s missions of clinical care, research and education?

Simply stated, volunteers extend the reach and impact of our leading institutions by helping to shape priorities, marshal resources, advocate, collaborate, build awareness and create passion within the community. All of my board service has been richly rewarding, and I will continue to seek new board service opportunities once my terms of service enable me to contribute as an emeritus member. Admittedly, I bring a “private sector impatience” to the work that I do, and I hold myself accountable to the commitments that I make. I do not plan to retire from public service as long as I am able to serve.

As for OHSU, the community engagement that OHSU leaders exhibit in countless ways is returned in the form of the successful $2 billion ONWARD campaign, the buildout of the South Waterfront OHSU campus, a growing awareness of OHSU’s positive impact in the region, and the notable awards and recognitions OHSU receives each year, which are all indications that transforming human health is a much admired and vital mission to us all.

You were born in Oregon and have spent your career here in the state. What are a few of your favorite things about Oregon?

My family had a small boat that we moored on the Columbia River six months of the year as I was growing up. We enjoyed water skiing, camping and picnicking throughout my youth. We towed the boat to Central Oregon most summers to enjoy the beauty of Detroit and Big Cultus Lakes. My happiest memories of time with my family are on or behind that boat. Oregon’s lakes, rivers, mountains and farmland are among the most beautiful in the world. I also like to take advantage of Oregon’s innovative food scene and farm-to-table restaurants.

What are your go-to activities to relax or unwind from a particularly busy day or week?

For the past decade, I have been part of a group of “mature” women who walk along Portland’s waterfront on Sunday mornings. We have completed several half marathons and focused on staying healthy. In addition to the good exercise this core group of confidantes provide, we tend to discuss many of the world’s problems and our own personal and professional challenges. They are my posse.

Time with my three adult kids is still a favorite activity. Now that I have two young grandchildren, I have rediscovered my inner child. There is nothing better than grandparenting, so I try to find ways to see them often. Luckily, I live in their neighborhood and they were in my small COVID pod. I am very lucky to have a loving family and many good friends from all phases of my life.

What is one thing that people might find most surprising about you?

I am a big live music fan. Prince is my favorite performing artist, and I saw him perform live nine times. The most notable concert was at Malahide Castle in Dublin when I was living there on a job rotation with Intel in 2011. I am always looking for good concert tickets. In grade school, I was a tap dancer. I often threaten to take more tap-dancing lessons once in-person classes resume. Remind me to show you my “shuffle off to Buffalo” tap step in the next staff talent competition.