Introducing a New MAAB President, Jim Kelly, ’73 MD

Dear Fellow Alumni:

I am indeed honored to accept the gavel as the 14th president of our Medical Alumni Association, begun in 1991. First, let me say thanks to Bruce Scharschmidt, ’70 MD (HPME), for his outstanding leadership as we transition from an elected to an appointed Medical Alumni Association Board (MAAB).

Many thanks also to the previous presidents of the MAAB — Walter Doren, ’61 MD, ’66 GME; David Sanderson, ’58 MD; Kenneth Viste Jr., ’66 MD, ’70 GME; Richard Heller, ’63 MD; Howard Traisman, ’47 MD; Andrew Bunta, ’67 MD, ’74 GME; Susan Rayner; Walter Huurman, ’62 MD; Bonnie Typlin, ’74 MD; Douglas Carr, ’78 MD; Jimmy Hill, ’74 MD, ’79 GME; and David Winchester, ’63 MD, ’70 GME — who laid the groundwork for this organization’s successes. Many thanks to our former Medical Alumni Association directors, Ginny Darakjian and ML Farrell, and to our current director, Babette Nyka. They have always gone above and beyond while working for our organization.

JIm Kelly, '73 MD

JIm Kelly, ’73 MD

Through Bruce’s leadership and the support of Dean Neilson and our fantastic MAAB staff, we are transforming and diversifying our alumni board as we continue to explore opportunities in four major areas: philanthropy, engagement, mentoring and strategic initiatives. Leveraging the strengths of our MAAB, we are continuing to look for new initiatives to engage our alumni worldwide.

I want to share with you a bit of my background. I graduated from the medical school in 1973 and have been a member of the MAAB for eight years. I pursued a residency in general surgery followed by a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at The Barnes Hospital/Washington University SchooI of Medicine. I spent two and a half of my nine years at that medical school doing research for the Howard Hughes Professor of Medicine and Immunology, Charles Parker, MD.

In 1982, I took a faculty position at the Tulane University School of Medicine as an adult and pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon with a laboratory interest in pulmonary hypertension and cardiac myocyte energy metabolism. In 1986, I pursued a private practice in adult cardiothoracic surgery in South Bend, Indiana.

I received an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in 2007 while still continuing a clinical practice, thanks to my top cardiothoracic surgery partner-surgeons. As I finished my MBA, I started an LLC, Cascade Partners, to help mentor, advise and invest in early stage disruptive, innovative medical/surgical processes and technologies. Remote technology management of chronic disease is my ongoing interest. Currently, I work at MATTER, a biomedical/life science technology incubator in Chicago, and I am a member of Chicago Innovation Mentors. I have worked at biomedical/life science incubators at Washington University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame. My wife, Christine, and I have four children, one a graduate of Northwestern University.

I joined the MAAB because it is clear that the trajectory of Feinberg and the Northwestern Medicine health system is rapidly changing locally and nationally. Dean Neilson has committed to attracting top academic talent, and he is expanding the research facilities on the medical school campus. He has assembled a very effective administrative team and is putting more resources into the Development and Alumni Relations team, led by Alan Krensky, MD, which supports the MAAB.

One reason I decided to join the board is the focus on fundraising to provide full-tuition support to all Feinberg students. Last year, the average medical school education debt for a Feinberg graduate was $185,000, compared to the national private medical school average of $203,000. It is clear that, due to this financial stress, Feinberg graduates are being forced to make important career decisions with an eye on debt repayment rather than passion.

In Northwestern’s last fiscal year, Feinberg alumni gave $3,106,090 in support of scholarships at the medical school, bringing us ever closer to our scholarships endowment goal of $800 million. For three years running, every member of the MAAB has made at least one annual gift to the medical school. The Development and Alumni Relations staff also hit a 100 percent giving participation goal this past year. You can see that we are truly creating a culture of philanthropy where participation at any level is paramount.

Kelly and current medical students at a recent "Alumni Physicians of Feinberg" dinner.

Kelly and current medical students at a recent “Alumni Physicians of Feinberg” dinner.

I would like to double down our efforts to engage our medical students and reach out to our alumni for their help as we continue to build a cohesive and supportive network. I hope that, during my tenure, we can forge an exciting story about alumni support for evolving academic excellence and a debt-free medical education.

Our efforts in engagement continue to grow as we expand our Alumni Physicians of Feinberg program and look for new ways to engage our GMEs. Our Strategic Initiatives Committee has seen increasing diversification within Global Health and Physicians in Business. A new Women in Medicine event with an expert panel and networking occurred during Alumni Weekend. In addition, our Mentoring Committee has also built a bridge to our medical students, and its role is expanding.

Magnifying our mentoring efforts by linking with the Augusta Webster, MD, Office of Medical Education, we have added Diane B. Wayne, ’91 MD, to an ex-officio position on the MAAB, and Emily Jones, ’08 MD, ’11 GME, to head our mentoring efforts. The Northwestern Network Mentorship Program cultivates meaningful mentoring opportunities for student and alumni mentees as they navigate their medical careers. The HOST Program (Help Our Students Travel) helps offset the financial burden and stress placed on fourth-year medical students when they interview for residencies across the country, and is a great way for our alumni and medical students to connect.

I am honored to serve all graduates of the medical school programs: MD, PT, MPH, GME, fellowship and beyond. My goal is to expand efforts to engage alumni and to utilize their talents to form a more active relationship with the health system and medical school. I solicit your ideas to help us move forward.


Jim Kelly, ’73 MD