Elinor Svenson initially envisioned the Hawk Foundation as a way for her family to help people turn adversity into promise and to honor the values she shared with her late husband, John Svenson.
“Our goal is to invest in nonprofit programs that help individuals facing difficult situations in their lives,” says Elinor, who runs the foundation with her children and their spouses—Benjamin and Lauren Svenson, Sarah and Dana Nielsen, and Eric and Sarah Svenson. “We are a family that decides when we get behind something, we work hard to make it happen.”
After starting the foundation, adversity hit close to home. Elinor’s great niece, Gillian Reny, received life- and limb-saving care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The foundation responded by supporting trauma research at the hospital.
“We are fully behind the work of my niece and nephew, Audrey and Steven Reny, and their entire family, who have turned their personal tragedy into a movement that has strengthened an entire community of trauma survivors and their medical providers,” Elinor says.
Recently, the Hawk Foundation stepped forward with a gift of $225,000—its largest contribution yet to The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation at BWH. This gift brings the family’s giving to more than $425,000 in support of innovative research and improved care for the thousands who suffer traumatic injuries each year. In 2017, BWH dedicated an office suite in the center named in honor of the Svenson and Nielsen families and Elinor’s late husband, John Svenson.
“We marvel at the commitment of Stepping Strong physician-researchers,” says Elinor. “Their brilliance, creativity, and capacity to give people the possibility of life with restored mobility is miraculous.”