How Lawrence General Hospital recruited a new Chief Development Officer in advance of their historic campaign

Lawrence General Hospital (LGH) is a voluntary, not for profit, acute care community hospital in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Under the leadership of President and Chief Executive Officer Deborah Wilson, LGH is well recognized for its high-quality care with accredited programs in Cardiovascular, Weight Management and Bariatrics, Trauma, Cancer Care, Women’s Health Imaging and more. Most health care needs are treated at the main hospital campus on General Street in Lawrence or the two outpatient sites in Andover and Methuen, but LGH also has strong connections with Boston academic medical centers through its clinical affiliation with Beth Israel Lahey Health.

The Opportunity

When Lawrence General Hospital engaged us in 2021 to recruit their new Chief Development Officer, it was at a pivotal stage in its rich history. The hospital will celebrate 150 years of service to the community in 2025, and the institution’s senior leadership and trustees were championing an ambitious vision for the future, reflecting a strong commitment to fundraising and the imperative for philanthropy to finance critical care for a community in need.

At the same time, LGH was responding to the immense needs of their community in the face of COVID-19. The city of Lawrence was one of the Massachusetts communities hit hardest during the pandemic. In the early stages of the pandemic, the hospital had one of the highest percentages of allocated licensed beds that were filled with COVID-19 positive patients. Staff reallocation and the opening of a second ICU were immediate actions that increased capacity to care for sick patients. But when state officials predicted an upcoming virus surge, hospital leaders made it a priority to create an on-site, drive-thru testing center to help protect the at-risk community. LGH’s treatment and testing services were critical to saving lives, restoring health, and providing much needed hope to vulnerable community.

The story of LGH’s preparation and response efforts was one that underscored the fundamental case for philanthropy at the institution—the Lawrence community and surrounding towns require and deserve quality local healthcare, and LGH plays an essential role in its delivery. There was an institutional commitment to capitalize on current and future philanthropic opportunities by investing in the long-term, sustainable growth of the development program.

The Results of Our Partnership

Key to the search’s success was our ability to identify candidates who…

  • Could recognize and leverage the full philanthropic potential of LGH. It was critical that candidates understood LGH’s extraordinary impact in terms of the high-quality services they provide, the populations they serve, and their importance to the community – and would be able to communicate that impact to donors in a compelling and effective way.
  • Had the experience and drive to build a strong, sustainable fundraising program. While experience in the healthcare industry was a plus, LGH was also open to candidates who possessed more diverse professional backgrounds and had a proven ability to grow philanthropy in less highly resourced environments.
  • Welcomed the opportunity to partner closely with President and CEO Deborah Wilson, a strong and dynamic leader. As a highly respected member of the greater Lawrence community, Deborah was seeking a partner who could take LGH’s development program to the next level.

From a pool of highly qualified candidates, Lawrence General Hospital welcomed Dan Breen as their new Chief Development Officer. Dan joined LGH with over 34 years of development experience across a variety of sectors including higher education, arts organizations, and independent schools. He previously held the role of Director of Development at Ogunquit Playhouse where he built the fundraising operation and aided the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic by raising $3.5M as part of a ‘Bridge Fund’ to support the organization. Before then, he held roles at George School, Middlebury College, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. As a fourth generation Lawrencian, Dan was excited to return to the area and greatly expand philanthropic support for LGH’s mission and vision.

Looking Forward

With the guidance of Dan, and in partnership with Deborah and hospital leadership, LGH is focused on achieving growth that will coalesce the necessary infrastructure for a comprehensive development program, establish a systematized research-driven approach to donor identification, engagement, and relationship management, and celebrate LGH’s 150 years of medical contributions in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and the surrounding communities.

I really appreciated the authenticity and candor of the Development Guild team. I trusted them as partners. They understood our needs and were committed to delivering candidates that would meet our needs. I am very pleased with the outcome and look forward to working beside our new Chief Development Officer.

- Deb Wilson, President & CEO

Contact us to learn more about our executive search services.