2014 Health Care Heroes: David H. Kleiman

Tom Harton
March 6, 2014
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Health Care HeroesWinner - Volunteer

David H. Kleiman, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP

 The new city hospital in Indianapolis was built on a solid foundation—the Eskenazi Health Foundation, which was instrumental in financing the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Eskenazi Health Campus that opened in December.

But the foundation, formerly the Wishard Memorial Foundation, wasn’t always so solid. It was all but dormant before David H. Kleiman joined its board in 2006, launching an overhaul that resulted in not only a more robust foundation but a fundraising campaign that laid the groundwork for the largest public hospital relocation in the United States since 2002.

hch_klieman.jpg David H. Kleiman (IBJ Photo/Eric Learned)

For Kleiman’s central role in reviving the foundation and its fundraising efforts, he is being honored as the Health Care Heroes top volunteer.

Kleiman’s involvement with Marion County’s public health system started with the death of his brother-in-law and law partner, Phillip Pecar. Pecar had been chairman of Marion County Health & Hospital Corp., and the county health department wanted to honor his memory by building a health clinic in his name at 6940 Michigan Road. Kleiman became a member of the Pecar Health Center Fundraising Committee, which raised $1 million in 2004 and 2005 to build the clinic, which is now called Eskenazi Health Center Pecar.

His participation in that effort led to Kleiman’s joining the board of the Wishard Memorial Foundation in 2006. It wasn’t long before he and fellow board member John Pelizzari, who was then president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank Indiana, set out to overhaul the makeup of the foundation’s board and staff.

“David was instrumental in recruiting a broad array of highly respected and visionary community leaders to the board,” said the trio of Eskenazi executives who nominated him for Health Care Heroes. The transformation of the foundation also involved its staff, which is now headed by Ernest Vargo II, who was recruited from the local fundraising consulting firm Johnson Grossnickle & Associates. Of the foundation’s dozen staff members, only one remains from before the restructuring, Kleiman said.

Kleiman’s biggest feat was connecting Wishard with the funders whose names would adorn the new hospital and the foundation itself.

“I’d known Sid and Lois [Eskenazi] for many years and had been involved in soliciting them for some other gifts,” said Kleiman, who is now 79. “And I knew they were interested in a major naming gift.”

Kleiman and the Eskenazis met to discuss the new hospital, and it wasn’t long before the Eskenazis had agreed to donate $40 million, one of the largest individual gifts in the history of Indianapolis.

The Eskenazi gift was the largest in what became the Eskenazi Health Capital Campaign, which raised more than $80 million for the hospital campus, including more than $2.5 million from health system employees.

The end of the campaign coincided with the end of Kleiman’s two-year term as chairman of the foundation board. As he stepped down as chairman (not from the board itself, which he still serves), Kleiman challenged the board to set a course for the future. It was determined that the board would continue to undertake major projects with the potential to benefit the health of the entire Indianapolis community. The board is presently studying one such project, which Kleiman said would require a significant fundraising effort.

Sharyl Border, a community volunteer who now works for Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, spent a lot of time in a previous job doing training sessions at the old Wishard and saw firsthand the need for a new facility to serve the city. It took leadership like Kleiman’s to literally rebuild Wishard from the ground up.

“Few community leaders selflessly offer ... their personal time and resources year after year like David Kleiman has done for Wishard/Eskenazi Health,” Border said.

Kleiman’s voluntary contributions to public health don’t begin and end with Eskenazi Health. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was on the board of Planned Parenthood of Central Indiana. And he’s been involved for many years with United Way of Central Indiana and United Way agencies that focus on the health of the underserved, particularly children.

Kleiman, a partner in the law firm Benesch’s Business Reorganization Practice Group, has donated his time to numerous organizations in the community, including the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, the Central Indiana Community Foundation, Indiana Repertory Theatre, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis.•



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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

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  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).