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‘40 Under 40’ Lists Honor Two UCSF Fundraisers

By Ariel Bleicher

Who are the people shaping the future? In the Bay Area, it’s easy to look to up-and-comers in the tech industry. But the next Sheryl Sandbergs and Marc Benioffs aren’t the only leaders changing the world, according to the San Francisco Business Times and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP). Today’s rising stars also include two trailblazers in health care philanthropy: UC San Francisco’s Jessica Jencek and Erin Hickey.

Jessica Jencek 
Photo by Elena Zhukova

This month, the Business Times named Jencek, an assistant vice chancellor in the Office of University Development and Alumni Relations (UDAR), to its “40 Under 40” class of 2019. The award celebrates this year’s “40 most amazing, most disruptive, most decorated, or most respected business leaders under 40 years old” in the Bay Area.

“It’s great to know that UCSF has a seat at the table among the Bay Area brands we know and love,” said Jencek, whose team has raised millions of dollars for clinical, basic, and translational science – a foundation of UCSF’s mission to advance biomedical discovery and improve health worldwide. “It’s not just giant corporations that are getting things done.”

Jencek’s recognition is well-deserved, said Keith Yamamoto, PhD, UCSF vice chancellor for science policy and strategy and a professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology. “Jessica is wonderfully successful at identifying the passions of donors and enlivening their interest in basic science, which is not easy,” he said. “It takes a lot of intelligence, sophistication, and grace to convey the kind of bold research we do here at UCSF to a non-scientist and have them come back and say, ‘Yeah, I want to support that!’”

Erin Hickey
Erin Hickey

Another “40 Under 40” award, this one from the AHP, recently recognized Hickey. As UDAR’s assistant vice chancellor for children’s health, Hickey leads fundraising for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in Oakland and San Francisco. Under her direction, the UCSF children’s health enterprise has increased its annual fundraising revenue by more than 20 percent since 2016. Her work has helped fund pioneering research into pediatric therapies, clinical advancements, and community health initiatives, including treatments for rare childhood diseases and care programs for homeless children.

“Erin has led this effort extraordinarily well and is taking it to a new level,” said Shahan Soghikian, chair of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals board of directors and a co-founder of Panorama Capital. “She brings compassion, energy, persistence, and comprehensive knowledge of all the amazing work going on at UCSF – a powerful combination that has produced a great philanthropic leader.”

Jencek and Hickey both credit their success to their curiosity about human biology and their passion for people. “Partnering with really generous people to make the world a better place – that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning,” Jencek said.

Hickey, too, chose her career to help others. “I always think of philanthropy as the key to unlocking potential,” she told AHP. “The pebble-in-the-pond analogy is so strong: one discovery in one lab, funded by one donor, can profoundly affect countless lives.”