HOUSTON (April 5, 2022) – Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF) announced today that Elena Marks, the organization’s founding President and CEO, will retire in 2022 upon selection of her successor.
Marks has guided the $1.3 billion start-up foundation from its creation in 2013 to a fully established philanthropic organization respected nationwide for its work to improve health, not just healthcare in Texas. Under her leadership, EHF changed the conversation on health by not only working to make healthcare more accessible for those most in need, but by investing in new and different solutions that address the underlying, non-medical factors that lead to poor health.
“We started with a bold idea to transform the way we improve health beyond a hospital system, and Elena’s vision and leadership turned that idea into a powerhouse philanthropy,” said Bishop C. Andrew Doyle, the ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and chair of EHF’s board of directors. “From the beginning we wanted to be a different kind of philanthropy, and Elena captured the imagination we were dreaming about. But I don’t think we could have imagined in that moment where we would be now.”
“I had the opportunity to do something that’s different and transformative, and my goal was to use our incredible resources to build this organization and get it established,” Marks said. “We’ve done that and brought an influential new voice for health to Texas. The potential for EHF’s next chapter is limitless and I really look forward to seeing where the next leader will take it.”
In 2013, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas transferred the St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System to Catholic Health Initiatives and used the proceeds to create the Episcopal Health Foundation. EHF’s board of directors hired Marks as its first CEO.
Marks has since grown EHF’s staff from a small group of employees from St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities to a 30-member team with wide backgrounds in public health, public policy, safety-net health systems, community engagement, and communications. Since 2013, she has overseen more than $420 million worth of program investments in EHF grants, research projects, community and congregational engagement efforts, impact investing, and more.
“Creating healthy communities is an enormously broad task, but Elena’s know-how and direction guided us on what we could prioritize to make a real difference in people’s health,” said Linnet Deily, EHF’s executive board chair. “There’s a shared pride within the board that under Elena EHF started the right way on the road to make the most of this unique opportunity.”
In 2018, Marks and her team took what the foundation learned over its first three years to create a comprehensive strategic plan that sharpened EHF’s focus to improve health, not just healthcare in Texas. The plan zeroed in on working upstream to build an accessible health system that goes beyond the exam room to deliver health in new ways. The outcomes-focused plan also concentrates on activating communities and congregations to be able to take charge of their own health by building health-promoting communities. The final goal of the plan was developed after extensive research and focuses on investing in early child brain development programs for children from birth to three years old.
“Elena helped us be challenged by the use of actual health data and important research, and how philanthropy could use that information to address health more effectively and changed lives,” Doyle said. “Her gift to the organization will last far beyond her departure.”
With Marks’ retirement announcement, EHF has started a national search for her successor. Board member Bill Montgomery leads the search committee’s efforts.
“We want to build upon what Elena started,” Montgomery said. “Looking forward, EHF will continue to explore new and innovative tools like impact investing, research-based initiatives, and other efforts to stimulate sustainable impact in communities across Texas and revolutionize how Texans approach health.”