York Invests in Bold Healthcare Leaders

Three years ago, when Gwill E. York, a longtime member of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Board of Trustees, met Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, a BWH surgeon, best-selling author, and thought leader, the two made an instant connection.

As a venture capitalist and philanthropist, York found her knowledge of startup enterprises and interest in healthcare issues closely aligned with Gawande’s vision for Ariadne Labs, a joint center he started at BWH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In turn, Gawande sensed she would be a perfect fit for the advisory board of Ariadne Labs, which aims to improve care and save lives worldwide with simple, scalable solutions. She gladly accepted his invitation.

Soon after, on a flight from Boston to Barcelona, York brought a copy of Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. By the time the plane touched down, she had read the entire book.

“I was struck by Dr. Gawande’s insight into how much can be done to improve end-of-life care,” says York, who was inspired to make a gift in support of the Ariadne Labs serious illness care program. Most recently, York made a gift of $525,000 to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with $450,000 to be used at Gawande’s discretion for Ariadne Labs and $75,000 to be used as directed by another leader she admires—BWH President Betsy Nabel, MD.

“Gwill is extraordinary,” says Gawande. “She has rolled up her sleeves to help us at crucial juncture points in our growth, whether with recruiting, strategy, or advocacy. For Gwill to provide this financial support, when I know she’s involved in other causes at the Brigham and beyond, is a tremendous vote of confidence in the impact we’re creating.”

York says, “Drs. Gawande and Nabel are both incredible leaders and visionaries. They make me proud to be part of the Brigham family and support its excellent patient-centered care.”