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February 26, 2021
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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
VAI Steps Up Fund Development
(2007-01-02)
(wgvu) - As it prepares to embark next spring on a $160 million expansion, the Van Andel Institute plans to aggressively step up fund development to support research.


The additional research capacity and work resulting from the expansion will require additional financial support, said Joe Gavan, the VAI's vice president of communications and development.


Gavan's target is to expand annual fund development from about $1.4 million generated now to $5 million to $10 million a year within five years.


We're at the point where we need to expand our financial model, Gavan said. We need to expand (fund raising) so we can expand the research.


The six-year-old VAI supports research through competitive grants and philanthropy. Every dollar the VAI raises goes to research, Gavan said.


Funding from the Van Andel family supported the facility's development and sustains operations.


To expand fund raising, the VAI recently hired Stephanie Hehl as director of development. Hehl joined the VAI after 15 years with Davenport University, where she was director of development operations.


The newly created position provides more structure and coordination to fund development, Gavan said.


It's a critical position at a critical time, he said, citing the VAI's pending facility expansion and plans to create an endowed chair for Parkinson's research.


In formulating a comprehensive fund-development plan, the VAI will focus locally through 2007 and eventually wants to broaden its reach regionally and nationally.


The institute moves into the initiative with a compelling goal finding a cure for cancer that Gavan believes will resonate with prospective benefactors.


The organization has been growing and has been drawing a lot of interest, said Gavan, a Grand Rapids native who joined the VAI three months ago. There is so much appealing here to the philanthropic community.


Gavan previously worked as vice president of marketing and development at Goshen Health System in Goshen, Ind.


The VAI's upcoming expansion will add 280,000 square feet to the 186,000-square-foot facility and enable researchers to push into new clinical areas other forms of cancer, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, among them.


The project is targeted for completion in the fall of 2009.
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