Lifetime of Service
Everywhere she looked, hands were outstretched. Not to take, but to give.
As a nine-year-old girl in Chicago, Ill., Laura R. Grafman watched her parents and their friends do whatever they could to help support American troops during World War II. “I grew up being part of an all-out effort for this country,” she says. “It set the tone for me that I’ve lived with all my life.”
STUDENTS AND SAVIORS
In her early career as a college financial aid administrator in Illinois, Grafman created a letter-writing campaign between students and donors that would build bonds and solidify a continued interest in each other.
“The impact was considerable,” she says. “We were making a difference, one person at a time.”
She then met and became good friends with Virginia G. Piper (then Virginia Galvin), who was initiating a scholarship in honor of her late husband, Paul V. Galvin. Grafman admired Galvin for her philanthropic ambitions. “She became my role model,” she says.
In 1976, Grafman and Dayton, her husband, moved to Phoenix at the urging of Virginia Piper. After serving as a five-year volunteer for the Scottsdale Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Grafman joined Scottsdale Memorial Health System’s development office, where she helped launch an overwhelmingly successful $5 million capital fund drive to construct Scottsdale Memorial Hospital North (now Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center).
Grafman later helped establish the Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation, where for the past 20 years, she has developed and maintained long-term relationships with donors. She has been the executive vice president since 1993. She is also a lifetime trustee of The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.
“Being a steward of Virginia Piper and her legacy is the greatest privilege of my life,” she says.
Her co-workers and associates admire her dedication. “Laura’s commitment to carry forward Virginia Piper’s own standards is ever present,” says Judy Jolley Mohraz, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Trust.
“Laura sets the standard for excellence in relationship-based fundraising,” says John N. Ferree, Jr., president of Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation. “She’s a tireless, enthusiastic champion of Scottsdale Healthcare and the Foundation.”
“Laura is extremely committed to whatever cause or group she gets involved with,” says Jim Bruner, a friend of 25 years, and 1st National Bank of Arizona executive and Piper Trustee.
Laura and Dayton, who passed away in 2008, made the Valley their home. [They] “put commitment behind their thoughts to make this a better place in which to live.”
In addition to their generous contributions to Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation, the Grafmans’ philanthropic investments and volunteer services have benefited the Phoenix Symphony, Scottsdale Center for the Arts and the Phoenix Art Museum, among others.
“When you live and work in a community, you also need to give something back to help strengthen it,” says Grafman. “Philanthropy makes a huge difference in people’s lives.”
She lives her favorite quote: “To know that even one life breathes easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
By Kathy King
Photography by Shelley M. Valdez
“A Lifetime of Service” originally was published in AZ Society magazine and is reprinted here courtesy of The Arizona Republic.