Wednesday, November 2, 2005
OU alumnus named to ‘40 under 40’ list
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Greg Grabowski, BGS ’91, set four goals he wanted to achieve before turning 40: become a vice president at a company, make a certain amount of money, be in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and make Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40 list.” With the 2005 Crain’s list, Grabowski has reached every goal at the age of 38.
As vice president of communication and development for Hospice of Michigan (HOM), Grabowski oversees philanthropy and has helped raise the nonprofit agency’s end-of-life fund raising from $1 million in 1999 to $5-7 million annually.
“My education at OU is a precursor to why I’m successful here,” he said.
Grabowski was a transfer student from California State University at Fullerton. He came to OU on an athletics scholarship to play tennis. He started out studying finance but moved into general studies shortly thereafter because he felt it provided him a more rounded education.
“General studies really allowed me to study things I really enjoyed and I was really good at,” he said.
Campus life also was important to Grabowski. Besides being a tennis player, he was an athletics supporter, lived in the Theta Chi house off campus and served as Student Congress’ public relations staff member, where he met his wife, Christina, who was serving as student body president at the time.
After graduating from OU, Grabowski worked with Cornerstone Schools and Catholic Central High School in Detroit in the development offices, paving the way for his entrance to Hospice of Michigan in 1999.
Nine years ago, HOM was the only hospice in the state, but now there are many for-profit agencies that HOM, a nonprofit, must compete against.
“We’ve taken a really innovative approach to how we do fund raising,” Grabowski said.
HOM has developed an education arm that is involved with research and education of end-of-life care. With a $3 million contribution from Maggie Allesee, a local philanthropist, Grabowski spearheaded the Maggie Allesee Center for Quality of Life, something he said is one of his biggest accomplishments.
“To this day, that is the largest donation Maggie Allesee has ever made,” Grabowski said.
Grabowski quickly excelled at HOM, being promoted four times since he began working there in 1999.
“It’s been a natural progression,” he said.
The Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40 list” is selected from submitted applications and the finalists are selected from follow-up information they are asked to provide. Grabowski was nominated for the award three times by his co-workers. Each year he put time and effort into the information he provided for the follow-up. After three years of not being selected, he told his co-workers not to nominate him, but they didn’t listen.
The co-workers did all the legwork themselves and Grabowski finally obtained his goal.
“It’s one of the achievements that is obviously personally gratifying but there have been a lot of people who have been cheerleaders to get me where I am,” he said.
The success Grabowski has experienced isn’t his work alone. According to Grabowski, it’s the people he works with, the teamwork, creativity and ability to challenge each other that has made what he does so much fun — and having fun is also key.
He takes his employees on retreats, celebrates each success and tries to provide a relaxed, fun, uplifting atmosphere for them to work in and inspire them to love what they do.
“If you’re not passionate about what you are doing, eventually you have to do something else,” Grabowski said.
Now that he has obtained the goals he set for himself, Grabowski plans to focus on helping to transform Hospice of Michigan into the leader of end-of-life care now and into the future.