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The Ascension Illinois Foundation

The Ascension Illinois Foundation raises tens of millions of dollars annually to advance the mission of Ascension Illinois across the greater Chicago area. Our community's generosity supports the work of our healthcare ministry across 15 hospitals, 230 sites of care and numerous programs and services that address our communities’ health needs.

Our Mission 

Rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus as healer, we commit ourselves to serving all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. Our Catholic health ministry is dedicated to spiritually centered holistic care which sustains and improves the health of individuals and communities. We are advocates for a compassionate and just society through our actions and our words.

Alexian Brothers Hospital, Chicago IL
Doctor and nurses helping patient

Our Origin Story 

Long before Ascension became our sponsor, faith inspired a number of individuals — Catholic religious sisters and brothers — to use their gifts to serve those most in need in the greater Chicago area. Today, the healthcare ministries they started continue through Ascension Illinois. Here is a closer look at those whose work the Ascension Illinois Foundation carries on today:

Nurse holding shovel at groundbreaking of new hospital
Saints Mary and Elizabeth Chicago Historical Photo

Our Foundation Boards

Inspired by our religious founders, a dedicated group of Foundation Board members, including community leaders, physicians and Ascension Illinois associates, lead the Ascension Illinois Foundation today. They are passionate about using their gifts to serve those most in need and make a positive impact on the health of our communities.

Ascension Illinois Foundation Board

Ken Bauwens

Ken Bauwens


Reinhold Llerena

Reinhold Llerena, MD

Board Member

Mike Benoit

Mike Benoit


Dominic Mangone

Dominic Mangone

Board Member

Polly Davenport

Polly Davenport

Board Member

Melissa Pontikes

Melissa Pontikes

Board Member

Melanie Furlan

Melanie Furlan

Board Member

Larry Swets

Larry G. Swets, Jr.

Board Member

Terry Graber

Terry Graber

Board Member

Matt Walsh

Matthew P. Walsh II

Board Member

Person Icon

Ted Kanellakes

Board Member

George Wienold

George Wienold

Board Member

Ascension Illinois Regional Foundation Boards

Chicago Board

Ken Bauwens | Co-Chair

Matthew Walsh II | Co-Chair

John Baird

Gary Binder

David Bordo, MD

Dennis Garlick

Diane Latta

Raymond Parmer

Eric Rhodes

George Wienold

Jim Wienold

Len Wilk

Suzanne Zaccone

Ratna Kunwar | Junior Board Nick Wienold | Junior Board


Our Team

Melanie Furlan

Chief Philanthropy Officer


Joan Matthys

Executive Assistant


Katelyn Olszak

Stewardship Officer


Cate Osterholz

Development Director


Foundation Grants

Anne Carmack

Grant Writer, Government


Marcy Darin

Director, Foundation Grants


Julie Panicali

Grant Writer


Valerie Reiss

Stewardship Officer


Beth Rottman

Development Director


Foundation Operations

Jill Hulten

Vice President, Foundation Operations


Julie Baker

Director, Events


Margaret Conley

Communications Specialist


Heather Cordova

Development Associate, Operations


Emily Dagostino

Director, Communications


Tracy Graal-Smith

Manager, Event Logistics & Third Party


Germaine Hill

Manager, Prospect Analysis & Development


Kate Minogue

Manager, Prospect Analysis & Development


Marilou Niggemann

Director, Annual Giving


Patti Sotos

Director, Stewardship


Emily Douville

Director, Data Management


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