Monday, December 3, 2007
Greg Grabowski on life after ‘40’
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 reached every goal by the age of 38.
|Greg Grabowski (BGS '91) with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the launch of the Diana Legacy Fund in May.|
Now that Grabowski has finally hit 40, he has even bigger goals—and bigger achievements. He now runs the National Hospice Foundation headquartered in Washington D.C., a national move from his last state-level position as vice president of communication and development for Hospice of Michigan (HOM), where he oversaw philanthropy and helped increase the nonprofit agency’s end-of-life fund by millions of dollars per year.
Under Grabowski’s leadership, the National Hospice Foundation recently established the Diana Legacy Fund with $3 million in seed money from the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund in England. The Diana Legacy Fund will raise money for hospice and palliative care in Africa.
“6,500 people die of AIDS every day in sub-Saharan Africa alone. It is a terrible situation and I feel very blessed to be part of relieving all this suffering,” Grabowski said. “I’m very excited because the future implications to help people are just enormous.”
Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the spokesperson at the fund’s May 15 launch in San Diego, attended by major contributors and including video messages from the likes of former President Bill Clinton and Elton John. The fund, which aims to inspire corporate donations, has already received a $5 million federal grant.
“Billions of dollars have been spent on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in Africa, but little is left over to make terminal patients comfortable in their final days. This fund aims to fill that gap,” said Grabowski.
Grabowski 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.
He explained, “General studies allowed me to take a cross section of challenging classes to prepare for future roles that would require me to know finance, accounting, communications, and so on. Through the general studies program I was able to take high-level classes in all these areas. As a result, I not only got an education in a breadth of subjects, but at the highest level in each area, in classes usually reserved for majors.”
Campus life also was important to Grabowski. Besides being a tennis player, he was active in the residence hall government when he lived in Anibal House; he also lived in the Theta Chi house off campus. He 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, where he helped develop an innovative approach to fund raising that allowed the nonprofit organization to compete with for-profit hospice agencies.
HOM 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 and long-time supporter of OU, Grabowski spearheaded the Maggie Allesee Center for Quality of Life, something he still claims as one of his biggest accomplishments.
He said, “This is something I am still very proud of. Getting the center off the ground happened because I worked in a team with a bunch of innovative, creative, smart and passionate people. We did it together.”
Grabowski sees his new role at the national level as a natural progression. “Any successes I’ve achieved are all based in the passion I have for what I do and all the great people I have been able to team up with,” Grabowski said.
All in all, Grabowski attributes his accomplishments to a strong sense of teamwork based on respect for what each member brings to the table. “I could not have accomplished anything without the support of co-workers and bosses who were not afraid to let me take chances, opportunities to learn from others without fear of looking stupid, people in the workplace literally cheering me on, and by hiring much smarter folks than myself.”