Lanier supports St. Vincent's mission with high energy and soft sell

July 1, 2014


When Jane R. Lanier talks about her proudest accomplishments, she doesn't bring up the state-of-the-art centers for heart, cancer and family medicine at St. Vincent's HealthCare in Jacksonville, Fla., or the millions of dollars she has raised. She focuses instead on the connections she's made.

"I always say that friend-raising is our number one job," said Lanier, president and chief development officer at St. Vincent's HealthCare Foundation in Jacksonville. "I tell (other fundraisers), 'Don't think about money. Think about building friendships for your mission.'"

Lanier is the 2014 winner of CHA's Sr. Concilia Moran Award, presented "to an individual in Catholic health care recognized for creativity and breakthrough thinking that advances the ministry."

Sr. Moran died in 1990 at the age of 59, and the award has been given each year since 1992.

What matters most
Lanier recalled meeting several years ago with a man in his 90s, who had been a fighter pilot in several wars and whose late wife had been a military nurse. "He wanted to do something (to help the hospital) but didn't know what," she said. "We talked about nurses being the heart and soul of any hospital" and about the need "to build up the workforce and make them feel important and valued," she said.

The man decided to endow a fund named for his wife that would send St. Vincent's HealthCare nurses to conferences and continuing education courses that they could not otherwise afford.

"It has been my privilege to go to donors and talk with them about how they can make changes for good, using the gifts they have received," Lanier said. "I believe I have been given the gift of discernment, the ability to determine what would matter most to that person."

She has shared that gift on a national level as president of the Ascension Health Council on Philanthropy and in her longtime parish, St. Matthew's Church in Jacksonville, as senior adviser for one of the most successful capital campaigns in the church's history.

Care for the poor
"Jane is successful because her work ethic is second to none, she fulfills her commitments whether to St. Vincent's or to our donors; and the people in this organization trust her," said Bob Shircliff, a past chairman of the St. Vincent's HealthCare Foundation and St. Vincent's HealthCare boards and chairman of the search committee that hired Lanier in 1999. "She is the outstanding development leader in this whole area."

Born at what is now St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside and raised in the Jacksonville area, Lanier has dedicated her professional life to serving the poor and needy in her hometown.

As director of the YWCA children's programs in Jacksonville in 1991, she developed the first homeless day care program in the city and ran a network of 14 centers in all, serving infants through preschoolers in underserved parts of the city.

As chief executive of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville from 1992 to 1999, she oversaw construction of a new Ronald McDonald House adjacent to Jacksonville's children's hospital and developed a Ronald McDonald House family room within the hospital — the third such facility in the country.

Energy to burn
But it is through St. Vincent's HealthCare, part of Ascension Health, that Lanier has had the greatest impact on the low-income and underserved population of Jacksonville.

"The values of St. Vincent's are very important to her — service to the poor, dedication, reverence, integrity, creativity — she embodies every one of them," said Moody Chisholm, president and chief executive of St. Vincent's HealthCare. "And she has an energy that outpaces everyone else. Jane exhausts me."

Through community partnerships, capital campaigns, judicious use of government funds and a myriad of donors, Lanier has managed to touch the lives of a wide range of Jacksonville residents. Among the advances achieved through her leadership and fundraising ability:

  • St. Vincent's Pediatric Mobile Outreach Ministry, two mobile clinics that travel to 23 schools in poor sections of the city to provide a continuum of care for disadvantaged children and adolescents. Another pediatric unit is in the works. After the first mobile pediatric unit in 2003 demonstrated its effectiveness, Lanier worked with a local Rotary chapter and a local corporation that fully funded two new units providing health care to migrant workers in rural sections of Northeast Florida.
  • St. Vincent's Family Medicine Center next to the hospital, which offers primary care to underserved members of the community, many of whom are insured by Medicaid.
  • St. Vincent's River House, which opened in 2007 to provide comfortable lodging for families and loved ones visiting patients at St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside who cannot afford a hotel. The facility includes The Spirituality Center, where hospital associates can refresh their spirits and learn to use prayer as part of the healing ministry.
  • The Gary & Nancy Chartrand Heart & Vascular Center, the Mary Virginia Terry Cancer Center and a hybrid operating room at St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside, outfitted with technology used to perform transcatheter aortic valve replacements.
  • St. Vincent's Medical Center Clay County, a new 64-bed facility located 170 miles from the main hospital.

Exceeding expectations
Jay Demetree, a Jacksonville businessman who is immediate past chairman of the St. Vincent's HealthCare Foundation board, admits that he was "a little skeptical we could raise the amount of money we needed to raise" when Lanier first proposed the Clay County hospital, which opened in October 2013.

"There is not a lot of money in that county," he said. "But she never flinched. She took it on, and she exceeded every expectation by almost two and a half times."

David Kulik, a retired Jacksonville businessman who chairs the St. Vincent's HealthCare Foundation board, has known Lanier for 25 years and describes her as "extraordinarily dynamic about cultivating people for the mission of St. Vincent's."

Kulik has himself been the subject of what he calls Lanier's "kind, gentle, soft-sell" approach to donors. When St. Vincent's HealthCare bought St. Luke's Hospital, which had been affiliated with the Mayo Clinic, in 2008, Lanier asked the Kulik family to consider a major gift to renovate the tiny, unadorned chapel to emphasize the Catholic identity of what was to become St. Vincent's Medical Center Southside.

"It became the mission of our family to do this," said Kulik, who has four daughters and 14 grandchildren. Although the project cost "twice as much as we originally thought," the result turned "what looked like the back of a large waiting room into a magnificent chapel reflective of our Catholic faith," he said.

Counting her blessings
A certified fundraising executive since 1997, Lanier is a graduate of Georgia State University and has been married since 1968 to her "childhood sweetheart," Randy Lanier, a retired banker who now works in a fly-fishing shop.

Their two married daughters and "five fabulous grandchildren" all live within "bike-riding distance" and she often finds a full house when she comes home from work. The three generations also vacation together, going to the Florida Keys or the Bahamas for fishing, boating and swimming.

"I'm very blessed that my husband and I have the same values," she said, noting that Randy became a Catholic when they married.

Her Catholic faith played a strong role in the decision to come to St. Vincent's HealthCare, when she saw during the interview phase that her office would be located close to the hospital chapel.

"To be near the Blessed Sacrament and still be doing a job — 15 years later I am still in awe of that," she said.


Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.