Len McNally, The New York Community Trust

TITLE: Program Director, Health and People with Special Needs

FUNDING AREAS: Health policy, biomedical research, aging, environmental health, AIDS

CONTACT: lm@nyct-cfi.org, 212-686-0010

IP TAKE: McNally has a great deal of experience and a soft spot in his heart for New York's most vulnerable populations. Although the trust awards grants in a variety of health fields, McNally is most concerned with children, the elderly, and people suffering from AIDS.

PROFILE: Len McNally has worked with some of New York's most vulnerable populations, and his sense of empathy has made him a vital resource at the New York Community Trust. Before joining the foundation in 1989, McNally planned community programs for more than a decade for chronically ill senior citizens and people with AIDS. Today, he serves as program director of the Health and People with Special Needs program, overseeing all grantmaking related to health policy, biomedical research, and disability programs.

McNally's background is in science. He earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in biology from Northeastern University, and he even taught biology classes for a while early in his career. He later found a passion in public health and headed over to Columbia University to pursue a master's in public health. After switching from the academic sector to the non-profit sector, McNally worked to develop capitation-finance programs that supported the needs of the elderly and helped people with AIDS find treatment. He also assisted the September 11th Fund in creating and funding health insurance programs for victims of the terrorist attacks.

At The New York Community Trust, McNally focuses his attention on public health, environmental health, children's health, and community development. Children, the elderly, AIDS sufferers, and people with disabilities are of particular interest to McNally. After awarding a $1.7 million grant to the New York City AIDS Fund, McNally said, "Properly managed, people living with HIV/AIDS can now live healthy, productive lives, but lack of outreach, follow up, and care coordination means many vulnerable New Yorkers are not getting the treatment they need, and the results are often fatal."

McNally continues to be an outspoken advocate for the elderly and has been a featured speaker at luncheons hosted by the New York Area Grantmakers in Aging. He understands that supporting the elderly means much more than providing medical care. "Older adults are the backbone of food preparation and distribution in shelters and pantries that serve the hungry and the needy," McNally has said. As you might suspect, programs that bring fulfillment to the lives of the elderly while also benefiting the community as a whole fare quite well with McNally.

Over the past couple of decades, McNally has become a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, a board member of Grantmakers in Health, a member of the advisory committee for the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence, and a member of the Commission for Aging Friendly in New York City. In the past, he's also served on the boards of God's Love We Deliver, Funders Concerned About AIDS, and the New York City HIV Planning Council.

McNally coauthored a Health Affairs publication titled "Partnering to Advance Public Health: A Foundation Supports Public Programs." One of his main concerns is increasing access to colon cancer screenings for New Yorkers. As he pointed out, more than 1,400 New Yorkers die from colorectal cancer each year. He also supports school-based screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. McNally oversaw a $85,000 grant that piloted a school-based STD program in five public high schools in New York City.

In most instances, McNally also supports collaborations with government health agencies, and unlike many other funders, he's willing to consider grant requests from government entities. In Robert B. Hudson's book Boomer Bust?: Economic and Political Issues of the Graying Society, McNally said, "Medicare's a crisis. Social Security is a crisis. The country can't afford the retirement generation...Philanthropy can bring people together so that we can talk about this reasonably, with a sensible thorough discussion of this issue free of political and profit-making interests."

To learn more The New York Community Trust's health grantmaking, check out the Grantmaking Guidelines and How to Apply section of the foundation's website.