A Family’s Legacy of Giving: Barrington’s Gillian Stoettner is the Sixth Generation to Serve Rush University

When Gillian Stoettner was asked to chair The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center’s 27th Annual Spring Luncheon on May 9, she knew she had to make it fun.

“We haven’t been able to have this luncheon in person for two years,” explains Stoettner. “When I thought about what this event should be, happy and colorful is what came to mind first. And Ali Wentworth (actress, comedian, author and speaker) is just the type of keynote speaker we need to have. Her candid and free-wheeling spirit is both colorful and happy.”

Ali Wentworth

Stoettner was a natural choice to chair the event that will reunite the Woman’s Board and its many families and friends. Her family’s history with Rush dates back six generations to 1872, with more than 1,000 years clocked in volunteer service to the institution. Stoettner herself has served on the Woman’s Board for more than two decades, fielding positions from the head of finance to a member of the ticket committee.

As to why Stoettner remains steadfast in her commitment to helping Rush, it’s hard for her to pinpoint just one thing.

“It’s really special to be part of an institution that’s transforming health care,” she says. “I truly love to help people and am a connector by nature. I was raised in a family where empathy was a core value. This is something I’ve never forgotten and tried to show my children by example. My desk is in the middle of a hallway in our home and my son and daughter will be passing through and see me working. They’re always asking questions about what I’m up to. I hope that I’m planting some seeds of service for when they become adults.”

Developing future board members is something intrinsic to the legacy of the Woman’s Board. The Woman’s Board works in partnership with the Auxiliary of the Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center and the Junior Board of the Auxiliary of the Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center to raise funds for programs at the Medical Center, and to volunteer. Additionally, there’s a long history of mothers serving on Rush Boards who have recruited their daughters to join them—as in the case of Carole Browe Segal, co-founder of Crate & Barrel and a member of the Rush University Board of Trustees and her daughter Katie Frekko, a long-time Woman’s Board member, co-chair of the 2021 luncheon and committee member for the 2022 Spring Luncheon.

“The power of seeing someone you love and respect devote themselves to a cause, well, it’s something that can’t be overstated,” Frekko says. “It makes you want to give your all to rally around that cause, as well. And it’s hard to think of a worthier cause than Rush. I think that’s why so many family members—daughters, nieces, sisters—are drawn to the Woman’s Board.  From their mothers, aunts, and sisters, they get a close-up view of the incredible work Rush does, but also the incredible need Rush fills, and they want to be a part of it.”

Current Board President and Winnetka resident Cindy Mancillas can also credit family members for encouraging her to volunteer her time to Rush. 

“The Woman’s Board is proud that so many of its members have such strong family connections to both the Board and the Medical Center,” Mancillas says. “We are also proud to work with the Auxiliary and Junior Boards to raise funds for our annual Principal Projects and Appropriations Grants, which fund various programs throughout the Medical Center.”

Cindy Mancillas

The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center itself is one of the oldest hospital women’s boards in the country, dating back to 1884. It is made up of more than 200 dedicated women who are invited to volunteer their time and talents. They’re currently working towards a pledge for Excellence in Cellular Therapy as its Principal Project.

The Woman’s Board Fund for Excellence in Cellular Therapy will facilitate the work of Rush physician-scientists introducing these exciting, but highly complex, cellular therapies into patient care. Providing for care coordination, research to further personalize these novel therapies and support for patients undergoing treatment, funds will strengthen Rush’s current position as a destination program in the Midwest for lung cancer, melanoma and hematologic malignancies—areas where cell therapies are rapidly advancing.

“In addition to a Principal Project, each year the Woman’s Board reviews grant requests from across the Medical Center. These grant requests can be for new equipment, research project seed money, patient services, and more,” explains Mancillas. “For example, in Fiscal Year 2022, the Woman’s Board continued their long-standing support of Rush’s work in Chicago’s West Side by helping to cover the cost of medical supplies. They also supported an innovative new mentorship program for Rush nurses. The Appropriations Grant Process enables the Woman’s Board to work in partnership with the Medical Center to achieve their mission of supporting community outreach, education, innovation, patient care, and research.”

“It’s a very exciting time to be part of the Rush Woman’s Board,” adds Stoettner. “The work is rewarding and the need is powerful.”

The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center 27th Annual Spring Luncheon will be held on Monday, May 9, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.


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Ann Marie Scheidler is a freelance writer who lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and five children. She tends to be where her kids are, but if you can’t find her there, she’s proudly supporting Beacon Place as one of its newest board members. Beacon Place is a nonprofit organization that has changed the lives of 4,000 children and families in Waukegan. Their innovative programs take a whole child and family approach to education, enrichment and healthy lifestyles support.