In 2020, Jennifer and Corey Feist started the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Fund in memory of Jennifer’s sister. As the head of the emergency department at a Manhattan hospital, Lorna Breen had treated patients at hospitals overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, contracted the disease herself, and then tragically taken her own life. The Feists hoped the fund would bring new attention to the desperate need for improved support for health care workers’ mental well-being. Now in late summer, it is garnering significant, and increasing, support. The Feists plan to turn the fund into a foundation, but they face decisions about how to accept donations, follow up with donors, and avoid duplicating the efforts of other organizations. Their challenge is to crystallize a long-term mission while maintaining the current fundraising momentum stemming from the media attention surrounding Breen’s death.
Through this case, students will grapple with difficult issues, including mental health challenges, burnout among health care providers, and suicide. Students also will learn about the challenges of starting a nonprofit and its lifecycle. Finally, they will be able to put practice into action and flesh out the mission for a nonprofit.