Mary Odell, UniHealth Foundation

TITLE: President

FUNDING AREAS: Health, hospitals

CONTACT: modell@unihealthfoundation.org, (213) 630-6500

IP TAKE: Even though UniHealth focuses exclusively on health grants, Odell still remains passionate about education. Although she's nowhere near the classroom these days, she can still appreciate health education grant proposals. Try tying an educational component into your health grant pitch.

PROFILE: Obviously, UniHealth's grantmaking priorities revolve around healthcare and hospitals, but as foundation president, Mary Odell's has always been most passionate about education. The UniHealth Foundation was established in 1998, and Odell jumped on board in 1999. When she was appointed president at that time, Chairman David R. Carpenter stated, “Mary Odell is an asset to the Foundation. She is a well-respected leader in the nonprofit community with extensive experience and knowledge of the region, which is critical in helping us accomplish our mission.”

At UniHealth, Odell oversees all grantmaking, strategic planning processes, and evaluation processes for the allocation of funds. Before joining UniHealth, she served as the president of the Riordan Foundation and Rx for Reading for eight years. Odell earned her degree from Mount St. Mary's College and did graduate work in the areas of early childhood education and language acquisition. She's certified to teach at the preschool level, the high school level, and even adult education. She spent some time teaching elementary school and working in school administration in the past. She also worked for IBM as an Education and Instruction Specialist and foundation officer.

When Odell was hired at UniHealth, she had to switch gears and apply her knowledge of education grantmaking to the realm of public health. According to Chairman Carpenter, “Our aim has been to make grants that make sense—that can reduce or contain costs while improving quality of care and outcomes for patients. Several recent grants are funding partnerships among hospitals, Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers and social service providers to develop systems of care for patients with chronic diseases who are frequent users of the emergency room but have no access to primary care.”

However, Odell hasn't completely abandoned her interest in education nonprofits. She serves on the Board of Directors of LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program, as well as Southern California Grantmakers and the Facey Medical Foundation. Outside of the office, she's continued to support fundraising efforts for nonprofits that keep at-risk kids in Los Angeles focused on education and positive activities.

Over the years, Odell has given fairly equal consideration to programs that promise community health improvements, healthcare system improvements, workforce developments, healthy aging, and community clinics. After approving a $298,102 grant for a California State University fibromylgia program, Odell commented, “Community health improvement is a UniHealth Foundation focus. This project has the potential to positively impact the health status of persons with fibromyalgia, and CSU Fullerton has the capacity to widely disseminate findings to benefit a broader population.”

UniHealth has a small and streamlined staff, with Odell at the top. Odell has acknowledged that her primary mission is to provide grants to hospitals in Los Angeles County and northern Orange County. To learn more about UniHealth's grantmaking program, check out the foundation's Applying Page and Letter of Inquiry requirements.