I recently had the opportunity to interview Gary Bowen for DLZ’s Executive Spotlight, a blog showcasing DLZ leadership to get to know team members personally and discover a hidden talent. While Gary is an accomplished Vice President with more than 22 years of experience, he also dedicates himself to children’s causes. A particularly urgent cause around the holiday season is that many organizations depend on the generous spirit of volunteers.
We talked about his passion for philanthropy, and how his volunteer work complements his professional life. We started off by discussing his early years. Gary reminisced, “I’ve been part of the DLZ family for 22 years, and it was my first “real job.” I was a recent college graduate who painted houses until I could find an opportunity to start a career. One of my first interviews was with DLZ, and Barry Wong made me an offer on the spot. I accepted the position, not really knowing what to expect. Barry took me under his wing and provided the kind of mentorship that is part of why DLZ is so successful. Like so many people at DLZ, Barry took the time to develop the people on his team and ultimately makes everyone more successful. In a lot of ways, I have grown up at DLZ, starting in the field and the lab as a technician and then progressing through several positions within our Field Services discipline. I have loved every minute of it and always enjoy the challenges of the job.
One of my favorite aspects of my time at DLZ has been working on hundreds of projects that have made a real difference in the community. I’ve enjoyed getting to know our clients and building teams that can solve their problems no matter how complex. I hope I have been able to pay it forward by mentoring others along the way.
I was born in Maryland, grew up in Central Kentucky, and have lived in Columbus, Ohio, for over 20 years.
I’ve always loved the outdoors, whether it is boating on the Chesapeake Bay or hiking in the Red River Gorge, and I think this made it easy to be passionate about construction and sustainability. I met my wife, Maura, while attending Centre College in Danville, KY, and I moved to Columbus after graduation to start our life together in her hometown. Maura works for the Abbott Nutrition Health Institute and is a great writer, successful podcaster, and loves music.
We have two sons: Henry, who is 15, and Ollie, who is 13. Henry is a great drummer, has started investing, and loves to cook. Ollie loves football, baseball, basketball and is always up on the news and current events. I’ve been fortunate to coach their teams and volunteer for a lot of their other activities. As a family, we love to travel. We’ve been to Ireland, Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, and Spain and hope to make a trip to Japan. We also love hiking, camping, fishing, and boating.
I’ve always had an interest in philanthropy and have sought out opportunities to donate my time and energy to causes in the community. While at Centre College, I found several opportunities to give back, including being the philanthropy chair for my fraternity, coordinating campus blood drives, volunteering at the local hospital, and organizing Fall yard cleanups for elderly community members. Fast forward to moving to Columbus, joining DLZ, and marrying my college sweetheart, both our boys dealt with severe respiratory issues as infants. They received world-class care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH). Maura and I were so grateful for the care our boys received. We were so impressed with the hospital staff and capabilities but experienced firsthand the fear, uncertainty, and heartache of watching our asthmatic children unable to breathe. We had the experience of having one of our sons tested for cystic fibrosis and remembered the anxiety of waiting for the results, knowing that the news is not good for families in many cases. We were fortunate to receive good news and ultimately have two healthy children but realized not everyone is that fortunate, and we’ve seen how critical NCH is to the community.
Our experiences with NCH motivated me to find a way to give back. In 2009, I discovered the Development Board, which is a dynamic group of philanthropic-minded business professionals who give generously of their time, talent, and resources to further the life-saving mission of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Founded in 1971 to enhance the relationship between Nationwide Children’s and the local business community, the Board has grown to more than 175 active and life members representing a wide variety of companies and industries throughout central Ohio.
The funds the Development Board has raised over the years have benefited annual needs as well as long term and critical needs identified by the hospital. The Development Board has been instrumental in funding:
- $1.5 million endowment fund for Child Abuse Prevention at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (1999)
- $1.0 million endowment fund for the hospital with the goal of reaching $1 million by 2000 (1997)
- $1.5 million Endowed Chair in Critical Care Medicine (2008)
- $2.5 million gift agreement benefiting the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Center for Family Safety and Healing. (2018)
- $200,000 gift to the Lawyers for Kids program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (2020)
In an effort to raise money throughout the community, the Development Board hosts several city-wide events. These include the Woody Hayes Celebrity Classic, Pay It Forward Party, Rock ‘N Bowl, Columbus Duck Race and Slice of Columbus. These fundraisers have raised more than $18 million since the creation of the board to support the good work of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Since 2009, I had the honor of serving on several event committees, founding/chairing the Columbus Duck Race, and serving as the Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President, and the President of the Board. It was an honor to lead an organization that makes such a significant impact on the community and the world through fundraising for treatment and research. I’ve always encouraged DLZ staff to get involved in the community and find something they are passionate about. The relationships you develop volunteering are meaningful in the business world, and you get opportunities to develop skills that may also be beneficial in your career. I found opportunities to lead diverse groups of volunteers, plan large scale fundraisers, manage event logistics, develop corporate fundraising strategies; all while developing my leadership style, and making lifelong friends.
I also gained a better understanding of the role Nationwide Children’s plays in our community.
The patient care portion was evident to me the first time I walked into the hospital. I quickly learned through the Development Board that the hospital also provides advocacy for children and families, pediatric research, education, and behavioral health services. While all of this is important, pediatric research became a focus for the board and me as an individual. The ability to improve children’s outcomes locally and globally through research will always be something I am passionate about and I hope others will be too.
As we finished our time together, Gary was headed off to meet with his team on a current project. To learn more about the Development Board or if you would like to donate, click here.