For this newsletter edition, we had the privilege of talking to Amanda Fowler, Executive Director, Global Corporate Giving, Edwards Lifesciences, regarding the incredible work the Foundation is doing to help patients live better lives. Ms. Fowler was appointed to the newly created role of executive director in 2011 and is responsible for the company’s global philanthropic efforts including oversight of more than $6 million in annual philanthropic giving, activation of more than 8,500 global employees in community volunteerism, and donation of thousands of medical devices for indigent care around the world.
Q. Why did you start the foundation?
A. Edwards Lifesciences is dedicated to helping patients, so giving comes natural and is something that we have always taken very personally. More than five decades ago, the company was founded based on a vision of giving patients hope for longer and better lives. This same passion continues to thrive today and has led to many medical innovations that now fuel our philanthropy and our ability to improve the lives of some of the world’s most underserved people.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish with your efforts?
A. Our philanthropy is focused on what we know best – underserved heart valve and critically ill patients, as well as strengthening the communities where our employees live and work. By supporting patient- and community-centric non-profit organizations through grants from our foundation, donations of employees’ time and talent and our products, we aspire to make a meaningful impact in people’s lives. We hope to bring an opportunity for life, smiles and happiness to those who are struggling the most.
Q. What is your goal for Every Heartbeat Matters and how will you go about achieving it?
A. In 2014, we launched a new charitable initiative called Every Heartbeat Matters, which is the center of our philanthropy. Through this, we invest in key philanthropic partners to help reach our goal: By 2020, our philanthropy will impact the global burden of heart valve disease by supporting the education, screening and treatment of one million underserved people. We think it’s a bold goal…set for one very important reason…every heartbeat matters.
We plan to commit more than half of our charitable giving to this work, while also continuing our strong investments in community- and other health-focused non-profit programs. We are energized by strong interest in joining us in the fight for these patients and the promise of this effort.
Q. What are some of your favorite successes for the Foundation?
A. Without a doubt, our favorite philanthropic successes are seeing people’s lives changed as a result of our partners’ work – that’s what it’s all about!
Earlier this year, Dirksen Lehman, our corporate vice president, public affairs, and I were fortunate enough to travel to Peru with one of our key partners, Heart to Heart International Children’s Medical Alliance, which brings together cardiac specialists to develop self-sustaining heart care in underserved regions. On this mission, we also brought our transcatheter heart valve technology to be used for the first time in Peru.
We had the beautiful opportunity of meeting a few of the patients after their successful transcatheter aortic valve replacement, which really drives home, in the most powerful way, why this work is important. It also reminds us that every success our partners have on these missions is a saved life. Nothing is more successful than that.
Q. You have been a supporter of the Fogarty Institute since its inception in 2007. What about the Fogarty mission dovetails with yours?
A. We value our partnership with the Fogarty Institute for Innovation and are proud to have supported its work for nearly a decade. From the beginning of the partnership, it was clear that Edwards Lifesciences Foundation and Fogarty Institute have a lot in common, and there is so much we can accomplish together – particularly bringing new innovation and talent to address unmet clinical needs. But the most important commonality we have is that singular focus on ultimately helping underserved patients. That’s special.