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Judy Guggenhime, Queen of Hearts

By Julissa James

Chaired by Judy Guggenhime, the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation celebrates 15 years of Hearts in San Francisco — the valentine-shaped art installations that have embellished the City since 2004, an idea hatched by Nancy Bechtle and Ellen Newman. The funds raised from these iconic hearts, some designed in psychedelic stained glass, others intricately hand-painted or sculpted by countless artists, have benefited the foundation from the beginning — and in the process became part of the City’s cultural fabric. The Hearts in SF fundraiser on February 13 marks the anniversary of the beloved art project and how it’s enhanced the mission to provide quality care at the the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

Judy Guggenhime illustrated by Olivia Wise.

Founding directors: In the early 1990s, a group of volunteers including George Clyde, Paula Carien Schultz, Gretchen de Baubigny, Moses Grossman, Lucinda B. Emmet, James C. Flood, Sally Lovett, William Schectern and Paul Volberding rallied in support of the hospital’s most vulnerable patients. Their efforts led to the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation’s inception (officially incorporated in 1993).

The chair: “My thing is public institutions,” declares Guggenhime. “I believe that good public institutions make for good democracy.” She’s worked with the foundation for nearly 20 years, also serving as community leader along-side Clyde and Pam Baer, among others.

Budget: The foundation raised nearly $2 million at 2018’s event.

Supporters: They run the gamut from corporate sponsors, individual donors and large family foundations.

Inspiration: “I just fell in love with the doctors, with the care,” Guggenhime says. “I wanted to get the word out that this is a fine, clean and wonderful hospital that brings first-rate and newly researched solutions to long-term problems.”

Impact: The foundation serves 100,000 people annually in a “compassionate and quality way,” Guggenhime notes. “I like to think that we have served to educate the City about this terrific institution.” Since 2004, it’s collected $17 million to fund almost 500 grants.

Get involved: Orchestrated by Guggenhime, Baer and Andrew McCollum, the 2019 Hearts in SF soiree takes place after sundown at Pier 48, trading its traditional luncheon structure for a vibrant, buzzy evening affair. In unveiling a new collection of hearts, the group aims to support much-needed mental health services at the hospital. For further details on the event, or the cause, visit sfghf.org.

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