Kathleen Hertkorn: Department of Surgery Director of Development
Date: December 1, 2011
Ask Kathleen Hertkorn to choose the fundraising project closest to her heart, and you won’t get just one answer—you’ll get a laundry list.
It’s no wonder the choice is tough. From helping donors endow professorships to securing millions of dollars in research funding, Hertkorn has led numerous successful fundraising initiatives in a comparatively short amount of time. Since arriving at Johns Hopkins in 2006 as a major gifts officer, she’s risen rapidly through the ranks. In 2007 she was named director of development for the Department of Surgery, and in 2010, for the newly formed Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
On a more personal note, she says, it’s only natural that working to support medical care and research would be important to her: She’s seen firsthand the havoc that disease can wreak on families.
What is it about your work that you find most gratifying and personal?
We’ve all had friends and families who’ve been affected by illness. My brother died needing a lung transplant, and my mother died of lung cancer. So for me, it’s very rewarding to be able to make a difference by raising money to support those particular areas. Our faculty members are also very inspiring. They’re so brilliant, they do incredible things, and I’m honored to be able to work with them to advance their research and programs.
How do you do that?
I act as a liaison between the patients and faculty members. So often, we encounter patients who want to express their gratitude by either giving back to the physician who treated them or by helping patients down the road by promoting research or programs. We also get to know the faculty, learn about what their needs and interests are, and match those priorities to our donor’s philanthropic interests.
For me, it is so gratifying, getting to know our patients and their stories and their journeys, and making that connection between the patients and faculty members whose practice or research might benefit from their support.
There are so many patients and so many faculty members who need support. How do you keep track of all of the different wishes and needs?
We work very closely with our faculty to learn about what their priorities and needs are. They share their vision—for instance, what they would do if money were no object—and let me know of any ongoing projects that could use private support. We find out what they want and we then share these priorities with our patients and their families. It’s amazing to watch a program or idea start out as a concept and become a reality. Sometimes it seems almost magical to me.