When Ed Hanway was asked by some longtime friends to join them on the board of The Foundation for Delaware County, he did what any good businessman would do: He considered both the mission of the foundation to improve the health and wellbeing of low-income residents of Delaware County and the foundation’s ability to effect change.
He liked what he saw and heard. The former CEO of CIGNA Corporation looked at the foundation’s assets and deemed them significant. He considered the strong programs that the foundation is administering and observed that the programs are having a positive impact and are led by dedicated and talented individuals.
“It seemed to me to be a relatively unique opportunity to provide help and assistance and investment to people who oftentimes are marginalized,” he says. “This is not a start-from-scratch, created-as-you-go operation. This is a foundation that has a very strong platform of programs that are delivering real, meaningful value for folks in places like Chester and Upper Darby.”
As a lifetime resident of Delaware County, Hanway is especially committed to the region. And as a retired health insurance executive, he has a passion for improving women’s health, maternal healthcare, and early childhood health and education.
“I often use the statistic that 40 percent of births in this country are paid for by Medicaid,” he says. “I would suspect most people would get that wrong in a quiz. That population is very representative of the constituency that this foundation will ultimately serve.”
Hanway has worked at the national level to resolve such issues, but he believes that working at the local level can have a huge impact. These efforts, he says, have the advantage of being more targeted, and they are often run by people who are trusted in their communities.
“One of the opportunities of this foundation is to really understand at a granular level what the needs of this population are,” he says. “It’s fine, for example, to reimburse folks for doctors visits and to encourage them to have follow-up visits after delivery, but if they don’t have the wherewithal to get to the appointment, it doesn’t do them much good.”
Looking ahead, Hanway says the foundation will sponsor research to better determine the diverse healthcare needs of Delaware County residents. Then, he says, the next step will be to use that data to map where the foundation will make its investments.
“I’m a big believer in all of us taking personal responsibility for changing the life status of people in our communities, particularly those of us who have the ability to do so either through financial support or by participating in the organizations that are delivering these services,” he says.
“I think that’s the future of this particular foundation. It will not be a foundation that simply invests in others’ activities; it will be one that really decides what the needs are and proactively addresses them.”