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Bravewell Collaborative for Philanthropy in Integrative Medicine - Leadership Changes 2003 to 2007 PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Bravewell Collaborative for Philanthropy in Integrative Medicine - Leadership Changes 2003 to 2007

Summary:  On receiving an invite to the November 8, 2007 Pioneers of Integrative Medicine Award Event of the Bravewell Collaborative, a Bravewell observer contacted the Integrator with a question. Hasn't the Bravewell board changed significantly? Hasn't it shrunk? The question is interesting for two reasons. Bravewell has had a profound influence in seeding and nurturing the MD-centric part of the broader integration movement. And payment of the Bravewell's $50,000 per year dues earns one a seat on the board. I took a look at the list of the boards in the invitations to the Bravewell events for 2003, 2005 and 2007. Here are the comparative lists and a little analysis and speculation.
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An observer of the Bravewell Collaborative, the organization of philanthropists for integrative medicine, contacted the Integrator on receipt of an invitation to the Bravewell's Pioneers of Integrative Medicine Award Event, scheduled for November 8, 2007. The observer, who preferred to remain anonymous, believed that the Bravewell board of directors seemed to have shrunk significantly. The board make-up is a good marker: payment of the hefty $50,000 per year of dues gains a foundation or philanthropist a seat. The subtext: Is the Bravewell losing steam?

integrative holistic medicine, philanthropy, CAM, CAHCIM The question is a significant one. While controversial in the broader integrative healthcare discussion for its mono-focus on medical doctors and conventional academic medicine, Bravewell has profoundly influenced the universe on which it has focused its efforts.
Under its original name, Philanthropic Collaborative for Integrative Medicine, the Bravewell seeded the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. A multi-year Bravewell grant has since helped grow that organization from its first dozen members to its present reach into 38 of North America's academic health centers. Among Bravewell's other strategic investments was the successful North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine

I decided to take a look at the programs for the Bravewell award events in 2003, 2005 and now 2007. Here is the list of foundations and philanthropists represented on that board, and the years they served.


Bravewell Collaborative Board Members:

  2003    2005    2007
Earl and Doris Bakken Foundation
   X    X    
Ira & Myrna Brind Foundation
   X    X    
The Marsh and Wood-Rill Foundation
   X    X   X
George Family Foundation
   X    X   X
Globe Foundation
   X    X   X
Mental Insight Foundation
David and Lura Lovell Foundation
   X    X   X
C.J. Mack Foundation
   X    X   X
Kohlberg Foundation
   X    X    
Coril Holdings+
Rudolf Steiner Foundation
Michele and David Mittelman Foundation
      X   X
Simms and Mann Family Foundations*
John & Ruth Baillie
Shirley Chu Orsak
Barbara Forster

Colby and Alana Jones
  X   X    
Sherry Lund
  X   X   X
William Sarnoff



Victoria and Ronald Simms*


Linda Stone


+ Counted as a foundation though perhaps better as an individual.
* As individuals in 2003 and as foundation in 2005.


Bravewell Board Members by Year

     Foundations   Philanthropists      Total
 2003    10    6     16

 2005    11    4     15

 2007    6    3     9


Comment/Analysis:  My colleague appears to have observed a trend. The number of foundations represented on the Bravewell Collaborative board has shrunk by 40% (10 to 6) and that of individual philanthropists by 50% (6 to 3). Overall representation has dropped  44% (16 to 9).

philanthropy, integrative medicine, holistic medicine
Penny George, Bravewell founding president
Interestingly, of the current 9 board members, all but one, philanthropist Barbara Forster, have been constant since 2003. A core team drives action at the heart of the organization. At the center remains the dynamic duo: Penny George and Christy Mack. [Note: An earlier version of this story wrongly stated that George and Mack were Duke alumna. Mack never attended Duke. My apologies for the inaccuracy.] George was Bravewell's first president
and Mack is at the head now. Mack and her husband, financier John Mack, are event co-chairs for the 2007 gathering. This group has held the vision for Bravewell's series of strategic investments.

I did not contact Bravewell for a perspective, so this is a combination of speculation and gathered insight. A part of the change is simply that some foundations and philanthropists are strategic and long-term in their investment. Others move their investments around a good deal from year to year. Most have both categories of investment. For a subset of Bravewell players, "integrative medicine" may have been an infatuation that broke off, for one reason or another, prior to any serious commitment.

  "I hope that Bravewell
is not losing its steam.
Its investments are inching
conventional medical
education toward
an awakening."

The ongoing commitment is significant. As noted, basic dues are at $50,000/year, up roughly 50% from the first year level. This has likely influenced the membership decisions of some individuals and organizations. I have heard from two parties that Bravewell's decision, to this date, to limit its giving, and its recognition, to medical doctors and/or researchers in conventional academic health centers has soured them. While I have been among those to urge Bravewell leaders to expand their reach, my guess is that this explains but a fraction of the shifting interest.  Leadership decisions in the Bravewell, like that of the academic consortium they have funded, necessarily strike a balance between conservative toe-dippers and others who are more comfortable in a full immersion in whole person care.

philanthropy, integrative medicine, cam
Christy Mack, Bravewell president and 2007 event co-chair
A loss of membership does not necessarily signify a loss of investment from Bravewell.
Many of the foundations and philanthropists that are involved make investments, beyond dues, to support specific Bravewell projects. And even with fewer numbers, this group could choose to increase its impact. John Mack, for instance, reportedly earned $40-million in 2005.

Bravewell is not shy about its vision. The website declare that it is A Community of Philanthropists Transforming Healthcare. The Lazarus-like aim: "Returning the Soul to Medicine."

I hope that the organization is not losing its steam. While history has shown that giving all the power in health care to medical doctors can be bad for human health, the Bravewell-supported inroads of integrative medical doctors into conventional medical education are producing results in thinking and practice. Bravewell's desire to transform may not be inclusive, or even "integrative," in the broadest sense. But its investments are inching conventional medical education toward an awakening.

And lest anyone wonder at the continuing clout of the organization, the September mailing of the invitation to the November 8, 2007 event includes a list of roughly 75 individuals and organizations which are "early supporters" of the event.

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