Chris Wilder steps down as President and Executive Director
Long-time leader of the VMC Foundation to focus on his recovery, will stay active with the organization. Foundation COO Michael Elliott has been appointed to role.
SAN JOSE – The Valley Medical Center Foundation announced today that President and Executive Director Chris Wilder has stepped down from the role he has held for the past 18 years to focus on his health and recovery. Wilder suffered a massive stroke in March 2021 and has been on medical leave since that time. His decision culminates a remarkable career where he became one of the most successful nonprofit fundraisers in Silicon Valley, raising more than $100 million to support the County of Santa Clara’s public healthcare system.
“I feel so lucky to have worked with a great group of leaders at all levels of the County of Santa Clara, and the health and hospital system,” said Wilder. “Also, it’s been a true privilege to have worked alongside the amazing team at the VMC Foundation. I have learned so much from them, and from those who have served on our Board of Directors. While it wasn’t my intention to ‘test drive’ the VMC’s world-class Rehabilitation Center, I couldn’t be prouder of what we all built, and I am incredibly thankful for the fantastic care I received during my almost six-month stay. For now, I will continue to work hard on my recovery and look forward to more adventures during this next chapter in my life.”
Replacing Wilder will be VMC Foundation Chief Operating Officer Michael Elliott. Elliott has been with the Foundation since 2007 and the Acting Executive Director since March. His appointment took effect on January 1, 2022.
“This is a bittersweet moment for sure,” said Elliott. “Chris has been a friend and mentor for over two decades. It’s been a privilege to work alongside him all these years. His example will continue to inspire our work on behalf of Santa Clara County’s best-in-the-nation public healthcare system, and for the cause of high-quality healthcare for all.”
Wilder joined the VMC Foundation in 2004 during a challenging period for the organization. The year before his arrival, the Foundation raised just over $100,000 and had no full-time staff. Wilder’s task was a complete rebuild of the organization.
Within the first years, he led two multimillion-dollar capital campaigns to complete the Parisi House on the Hill in Gilroy and purchase a new linear accelerator for the Sobrato Cancer Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC). In 2008, he led the campaign for Measure A, generating $840 million to build the Sobrato Pavilion, the new adult hospital building at SCVMC and a major health center in downtown San Jose.
“Chris’s contributions to our public healthcare system are truly historic,” said Dr. Dennis Low, Chair of the VMC Foundation Board of Directors and retired SCVMC physician. “You can’t walk more than five minutes on the campus of Valley Medical Center (VMC) without seeing evidence of his impact.”
Wilder is especially proud of the Foundation’s work in support of the County’s response to COVID-19. Over $25 million in funds, PPE and medical supplies were donated to the Foundation during the pandemic, providing vital resources to frontline workers through every stage of the crisis.
“Many people wrongly assume that Chris Wilder is a mere mortal,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor.” It is an easy mistake to make. But some of us know his secret identity of ‘Make-It-Happen Man.’ Chris possesses a supernatural ability to help turn ideas into vision, vision into plans, and plans into reality. He was instrumental in getting more than $2 billion of public funding for VMC. Our County is better because Chris Wilder chose to devote his career to our community’s health.”
“Chris is the reason the capacity of the Valley Medical Foundation has so significantly scaled up over the past 18 years,” said John A. Sobrato, founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Sobrato Organization. “I am sorry to see he is retiring. He will surely be missed.”
“It has been an honor and privilege to work with Chris over the years in support of the VMC Foundation and SCVMC,” said Phuong Nguyen, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Hospitals & Clinics. “Chris is an outstanding leader, public servant and a fervent believer in high quality healthcare for all.”
She added, “I wish to extend my most sincere congratulations to Michael Elliott as the new President and Executive Director of the VMC Foundation. There is no one more qualified and capable than Michael to lead the Foundation. I look forward to continuing our partnership in service of our community.”
Wilder plans to stay involved with the Foundation in the future, a role that Elliott welcomes.
“Chris knows the VMC Foundation will always be his home,” said Elliott. “If you’ve missed him asking you for a donation, don’t worry. He’s still got your number.”
The VMC Foundation and the Wilder family will host an event later this year to commemorate Wilder’s many contributions to the organization. Check back at www.vmcfoundation.org for details.